European Biathle Champion Bradley Sutton overcame injury to enhance his reputation as one of the sport’s brightest young stars with a fourth place finish in the World Championships.
Sutton, 16, an A-level student at Hartpury, finished just outside of a podium position in testing conditions in a hot and humid Guatemala despite being unable to train properly in the build-up to the event due to injury.
“The big issue was the heat, it was 36 degrees and 95% humidity,” Bradley said. “The water was really warm as well so the conditions were tough, which the Egyptian competitors thrived in.
“I started the race well, entering the water in sixth, which I maintained through the swim before overtaking two people in the final part of the race.
“Our times were much slower than usual which was down to the heat, but I’m very pleased with my individual performance. Despite missing out on a podium place, I’m delighted on an improvement from my finishing position in last year’s competition.”
Sutton had been hampered by a knee injury leading up to the competition, reducing the amount of training he was able to undertake.
The reigning European Champion was beaten on to the podium by an Egyptian and two other British athletes and Sutton is now fully focused on the rest of the season’s competitions.
“In terms of biathle I’m looking forward to doing the qualifiers again for next year, with the World Championships in Georgia – so I have that to strive towards. I also want to qualify for the Modern Pentathlon Youth A World Championships in Argentina,” He added.
Sutton will find himself in a new age group after Christmas, moving from Under-17s to Under-19s, which sees the race distance for biathle increased by 500 metres for each running section from 1000m to 1500m.
“After Christmas, I’ll be one of the youngest competitors,” added Sutton.
“Despite that, I think the new distance will play to my strengths as endurance is one of my best abilities. There’s no doubt it will be tough competing against people nearly two years older than me, so it will be a challenge to qualify but that’s something which will push me to be better.”
Sutton also has the Biathlon National Championships to look forward to after recently finishing second in the South West region biathlon qualifier at Millfield School.
“The swim was hard as there was no one of my standard for me to race against in my heat, but I was only a little off my personal best,” he said. “The run was also difficult as the injury which had hampered my build-up to the world championships flared up again.
“I know what I need to work on to improve and now I’m back in full training, I’m getting stronger and my running is getting back on track.”
Sutton will be aiming to go one better after missing out on top spot at last year’s championships by the smallest of margins.
He said: “The result qualifies me in a strong heat for the national championships at the Olympic Park later on in the season. It was tough to finish second last year by 12 pentathlon points [around 0.5 seconds in the run] and I’m determined to turn that around this year.
“I think with the training I’m receiving at Hartpury that once I’m back to full fitness, I’ll have a good chance of winning it.”
Sutton was joined by fellow Hartpury student Harry Sykes in the event at Millfield, with the A-level student competing in the same age group. Sykes finished just outside the podium places in fourth but still qualifies for the national finals at the Olympic Park next year.
Following their performance at the regional qualifiers, Sykes and Sutton are spending a week with the Hungarian modern pentathletes at an intensive training camp.
“They’re one of the top pentathlon nations in the world and are always around the podium so it’s a great chance for us to pick up some tips on how to improve,” Bradley said.
“I’m really looking forward to a week of solid training without any other distractions. It’s a great opportunity to build your skills alongside some of the world’s best.”