Nigel Brooks has had a long and varied sporting career – but the August bank holiday weekend will bring him a proud first when he represents his country.
The 59-year-old retired teacher, who lives in Chichester, will be part of a large British contingent taking part in the Amateur World Cycling Championships in France.
He has two aims – to finish the 155km course, and not to come last.
The event takes place in Albi, north-east of Toulouse, and features some sustained hill climbs that Brooks likens to some of those he is used around the South Downs.
There are more than 1,500 riders taking part, 236 of them in Brooks’ 55-59 category. Almost a third of the total field are GB riders.
Brooks, who taught design and technology at Chichester High School and St Philip Howard School in Barnham in a 38-year career, qualified for France at a Tour of Cambridge 80-mile event in June.
He said: “The champioships take place on Sunday, August 27, and the distance is 155km. I’m used to that distance.
“It will be the first time I’ve represented GB at any sport, so it will be a proud moment.
“Sporting-wise I hadn’t done anything in nearly 20 years but when London 2012 came around I wanted to do something active. I saw some former colleagues from Chichester Runners and when I said I was thinking of taking up cycling, one said ‘You’ll love it.’
“I worked in Barnham at the time and started out cycling to work twice a week.
“That soon became every day and I was doing 220 miles a week.
“In France, I’d like to get round and not finish last! I’m looking forward to putting on the GB shirt and getting on to the start line.”
Sporting honours are nothing new to Brooks, a former Bognor schoolboy who excelled at rugby and hockey.
In hockey he was captain of the Sussex under-15, U16, U19 and U21 teams.
He was under-19 hockey captain hockey for south-east England and had an England trial at under-19 level but didn’t make the squad.
Brooks played first-team hockey for Chichester and second-team squash for Chichester Lawn Tennis and Squash Club.
For many years he was a leading long-distance runner for Chichester Runners.
He competed in several London Marathons, with an impressive best time of 2hr 40min.
The father-of-two, who became a grandfather nearly two years ago, will have family supporting him in Albi.
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