By Josh Graham at Sutton Park, Birmingham
Wales veteran Non Stanford admitted she was delighted to cap her Birmingham homecoming with a sixth-place finish in the women’s triathlon at the Commonwealth Games.
Stanford, 33, first took up the sport at the city’s university in 2008 and was determined to enjoy her experience as she brought down the curtain on her major Games career at Sutton Park.
The 2013 world champion admitted she had a shot to nothing in her first race of the year after an injury-hit build-up which saw her tear her calf in May and was just pleased to enjoy the experience as Bermuda’s Flora Duffy retained her title ahead of England’s Georgia Taylor-Brown.
Bridgend’s Stanford, who finished eighth on the Gold Coast four years ago, said: “I’m really pleased with it. I didn’t know what to expect, as it has been a bit of a tough build-up but considering where I was eight weeks ago, I’m really happy.
“Once that front group had got away, I kind of knew that the medals were a bit out of reach, so I just focused on having a strong race and really enjoying myself.
“I don’t think I stopped smiling for that whole run, I kept seeing my friends and I was really trying to soak it up and enjoy being in that Welsh kit.
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“The aim is always to come away with a medal and that would have been the absolute dream scenario but I’m really happy with six. It’s better than I did at the last Commonwealth Games and I had no expectations today in reality.
“It’s kind of full circle for me as Birmingham is where I started doing triathlon when I was at university, so to come here and represent Wales is an amazing moment for me.
“So many of my friends from university were out there supporting and it sort of felt like a home race for me.”
Stanford, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support, confirmed her time competing at major championships was up but poured cold water on any talk of an imminent retirement.
She added: “It is my last Commonwealth Games hence why I was determined to go out there with a big smile on my face and just enjoy it.
“I’m 33, I’ll be 37 at the next Commonwealth Games, so you never know I might be on the other side supporting the athletes instead of racing myself.
“This will be my last major Games for sure. I’m not getting any younger.
“I’m not hanging my boots up just yet, I’ve got a few more races left in me I think. I’ve got European Championships in a couple of weeks time, that will be my first Europeans since 2011, so I’m really looking forward to that.”
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