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Life in the fast lane.

Joining Birmingham Running, Athletics and Triathlon Club is a great way for kids to have fun and get t - and they might even discover they have a special talent Triathlon is Britain's fastest-growing sport, and if the Brownlee brothers repeat their medal-winning heroics from London 2012 in Rio this summer, there will be another surge in youngsters wanting to take it up.

At Birmingham Running Athletics and Triathlon Club - BRAT for short - young athletes who show all-round promise are given the chance to train for triathlons, a combination of swimming, cycling and running.

junior section, the emphasis for the younger athletes is very much on enjoyment.

Martin says: "We do have some high performance members in the seniors, and one or two of the juniors would fall into that category, but it's more about enjoyment and getting some exercise, rather than competition at that age."

Triathlon star in action " When BRAT members do start competing, it's at a local league level, but some juniors go on to compete nationally.

Martin adds: "We're in the heart of England League, which is mainly Midlands based. If they're doing really well they can continue with our club. We have a fairly high-ying junior, who is way up the national rankings, Jonathan Briggs, who throws shotput, discus and hammer.

rankings, Jonathan Briggs, who throws shotput, discus and hammer.

"He is still part of our club, and as long as we are able to give him the support and coaching then there is no great reason for him to move on."

"He is still part of our club, and as long as we are able to give him the support and coaching then there is no great reason for him to move on."

One of the club's most successful former members is triathlete Chrissie Wellington, the four-time Ironman World Champion.

One of the club's most successful former members is triathlete Chrissie Wellington, the four-time Ironman World Champion.

And this summer, youngsters at the club will be inspired by the Olympics, where Aldi will be the ocial supermarket of Team GB.

And this summer, youngsters at the club will be inspired by the Olympics, where Aldi will be the ocial supermarket of Team GB.

ere could even be some former BRAT juniors competing in Rio. Triathlete Jodie Stimpson is a strong contender for one of three ere could even be some former BRAT juniors competing in Rio. Triathlete Jodie Stimpson is a strong contender for one of three women's triathlon places in Team GB, and Non Stanford, who has already been selected, was linked to the club when studying in Birmingham. BRAT Club Sprinter David Lima, who moved to Birmingham from his native Portugal when he was six, also has a strong chance of making his country's team.

star Jodie action DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS From juniors to potential Olympians, the club is thriving, something Martin says is down to the dedication of the volunteers who run it.

He says: "It's a labour of love to keep the club going. at's how it manages to exist. It's been formed and run since its inception by volunteers.

"Some are former athletes, who have nished competing, and some are parents of juniors. e club very much relies on the parents and we need them to be involved."

As well as nding enough volunteers, the club's other challenge at the moment is the loss of one of its main training bases, after the track at Birmingham University was closed for redevelopment.

As well as nding enough volunteers, the club's other challenge at the moment is the loss of one of its main training bases, after the track at Birmingham University was closed for redevelopment.

Martin adds: "A new track was supposed to be in place before this building happened, but they had to change the order they did things. It's our biggest challenge at the moment."

Martin adds: "A new track was supposed to be in place before this building happened, but they had to change the order they did things. It's our biggest challenge at the moment."

While clubs like BRAT may help discover our next generation of champions, their key achievement is helping promote a healthy lifestyle for all children and young people, something Team GB Partner Aldi is doing with its focus on providing fresh produce at value prices.

While clubs like BRAT may help discover our next generation of champions, their key achievement is helping promote a healthy lifestyle for all children and young people, something Team GB Partner Aldi is doing with its focus on providing fresh produce at value prices.

Martin adds: "It's a healthy outdoor activity in a group, so it will expose kids to things they wouldn't necessarily get involved with anywhere else.

Martin adds: "It's a healthy outdoor activity in a group, so it will expose kids to things they wouldn't necessarily get involved with anywhere else.

Young BRAT runner Young BRAT runner "Even if they're not going to go on and be a world-beater, if they don't take it any further, they've had years of a fantastic healthy lifestyle."

"Even if they're not going to go on and be a world-beater, if they don't take it any further, they've had years of a fantastic healthy lifestyle."

JUNIOR ACADEMY e club's Martin Ludford says: "From the age of nine, they come along to group sessions on a Sunday morning, which is the athletics junior academy, and just do stuin groups to get a taste of running, jumping and throwing.

"ey can have a go at versions of all the athletics events. ey're not using real javelins or anything like that at that age - there are much safer junior equivalents.

"If coaches see they have a particular aptitude, they are moved in that direction from about 12. At that stage, triathlon is not really on the agenda."

" As part of our brilliant Grow Your Champions campaign, in association with the cial Supermarket of Team GB, Aldi, we are focusing on junior sports clubs in your area, to highlight how dedicated coaches and volunteers are nurturing our next generation of sporting heroes. We will also be asking their advice on how to get your children into sport and an active lifestyle, even if they may not be a future gold medallist.

At BRAT Club, while there are a couple of potential winning isn't everything Remember it's not all about winning. If you can get that across to the kids, they're much more likely to stick with it. If they think they have to be winning, when they're not successful they'll wonder what the point is. Have a go yourself so you, as a parent, know what you're talking about. You can experience it with your children.

Simon White, BRAT Club coaching co-ordinator
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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