Athletics: Doctor celebrates medal haul at world championships

Dr Averil McClelland tops the podium as the world W55 long jump champion.
Dr Averil McClelland tops the podium as the world W55 long jump champion.
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A city doctor is celebrating after returning from a world athletics championships in Brazil with an impressive medal haul.

Dr Averil McClelland won gold in the long jump and silver in both the 100m and 200m at the World Masters Athletics Championships in Porto Alegre.

The GP at the Rosebank Medical Practice in Ashton Road was more than pleased with her performances in the W55 age group.

The Lancaster and Morecambe Athletics Club competitor said: “I’m very, very delighted.

“I’m especially pleased with the 200m because it was my best time for two years.”

Recording 27.78 seconds in the 200m, she also clocked 13.84 in the 100m and jumped 4.47 metres for gold in the long jump.

Masters athletics is a serious business for the 55-year-old who qualified after winning the sprint double at the British Masters Track and Field Championships at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham, back in September.

The mother of four who lives in Ellel said: “We’re amateur and don’t get paid but I certainly take it as seriously as the elite athletes.

“I’m at the track three of four times a week, gym twice and do psychology work as well.

“Coming back after a major championship and going back to work can be a bit of an anti-climax.

“But my patients enjoy hearing about how I’ve got on and the support from everyone at the surgery has been great.”

A extensive team make sure the GP is in tip-top shape for the major competitions including physio David Edge, strength and conditioning coach Dan Birdsall, long jump coaches Peter and Caroline Warden and sprint coaches Ian Broadhurst and Amanda Wale.

All this comes having returned to the sport just over 10 years ago after a successful junior career.

Averil said: “I competed for Stretford, now Trafford Athletic Club, and represented GB Juniors at 18.

“Then it just petered out as medical school became more important.

“My career and family took over but I decided at the age of 44 to come back again.

“Not a lot of people know about masters track and field but the following is getting bigger.

“Master athletes are the backbones of most clubs.”

Now someone who encourages healthy living as part of her day job is happy practicing what she preaches.

Averil said: “It’s great opportunity to do sport and travel.

“I work three days a week and have taken holidays and extended leave for international competition.

“It’s important to have a good work-life balance. That’s what we tell patients.”

The next major competition for Averil, who won the sprint double at the 2005 games in San Sebastien, will be the World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in March.