You may be thinking, an ambassador spotlight on Sunday, that’s not right! But it is. Welcome to our Sunday Spotlight.
Over the next few weeks and hopefully into the future, we are taking the time to feature some of the amazing athletes and ambassadors that we are lucky to have on our team.
And to kick things off, we are doing so with one of the biggest names in the sport of triathlon. A previous World Champion and Olympian, this incredible athlete has made an exceptional return to sport after injury and surgery.
It’s none other than Non Stanford!!!
It is a privilege to have Non join our team all the way from sunny Australia of all places. So without further ado let’s hand it over to Non to find out a little bit more about her history in the sport and where it all started…
Non: I started triathlon in 2008 at the age of 19, whilst studying Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Birmingham.
I grew up surrounded by elite sport, and with a passion to one day go to the Olympics. I tried everything from gymnastics, to swimming, tennis and ballet. In my teens I found a talent for running, and was very fortunate to be mentored by Dame Kelly Holmes, but during my first few years at University I struggled a lot with injury, and so returned to the pool as a form of cross training.
The University triathlon coach, Steve Lumley, identified that I had potential, and encouraged me to enter my first triathlon, the BUCS (British University and Collage Sport) Sprint triathlon Championships. It was a somewhat rocky start, and definitely not a smooth journey, but in the space of 5 years I went from complete beginner to Senior Elite World Champion.
In that time I graduated from Birmingham with BSc Hons, worked for a year at a local bike shop and for the University Sports Scholarship department, before moving my life to Leeds to join the ever growing legion of triathletes living and training around the Yorkshire Dales.
U Perform: Such an amazing success story and in such a short space of time too. If you had to pick a highlight or your biggest achievement. What would this be?
Non: One of my proudest achievements was being the first, and to this day only, woman to achieve the World U23 title and Senior Elite World title in consecutive years; beaten to the post by the first and only male athlete, Alistair Brownlee.
But also winning the Senior title in 2013, on home soil in London, was another dream come true, alongside competing at my first Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, where I finished 4th, missing out on the bronze in a sprint finish with Team GB teammate Vicky Holland.
U Perform: For those who are less familiar with your journey, we understand that injury has played a significant role in shaping your career. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Non: Since winning the World title in 2013 my career has unfortunately been plagued by injury; a plantar fascia tear in 2014, chronic Achilles tendinopathy and minor tears 2016-18, and most recently patella femoral knee surgery in 2019.
Each one has tested me in many different ways, and I’d be lying if I said they’d been easy to overcome. As I’ve got older I’ve gained a better perspective, and been better equipped to deal with these major setbacks. I’ve learnt, the hard way, that a positive and happy mindset is the best, and quickest way to overcome injury.
I focus on what I can do, not what I can’t; and constantly remind myself that comparison is the thief of all joy! My journey is the one that I am living, and I try to not compare mine to that of other people’s.
U Perform: Wise words for everyone to consider here.
You are an inspiration to us and we cannot wait to see what is next for you. Looking to the future and your time with us here at U Perform, why did you choose to team up with U Perform? And what gives you the confidence to not only use the products for yourself but also to promote these products to your social media followers and to your friends and teammates.
Non: I choose to team up with U Perform after using the collagen products during my recovery from my recent knee surgery and I really feel like the product made a difference to my recovery from a potentially career ending injury.
The products are versatile and easy to incorporate into a busy lifestyle, and it’s reassuring to know that there’s no other product on the market that uses the same science as U Perform.
I know I’m getting the unrivalled best with the added peace of mind that every product I use is Informed Sport approved. Additionally the people behind the brand were incredibly supportive during those tough months, and it’s great to know that we share the same values and work ethic.
U Perform: This question is always a tricky one, but what is your favourite U Perform product?
Non: My favourite product is the active collagen gel; I take one roughly 60mins before every run to help look after my tendons and ligaments and hopefully reduce the chances of reoccurring injuries like Achilles tendinopathy.
U Perform: We like to mix things up a bit when we speak to our athletes and ambassadors, to try and find out a little more about them outside of sport and exercise.
Do you have a fun fact about yourself that you are happy to share? And what is your favourite motivational quote?
Non: I’m a fluent Welsh speaker having been born and bred in South Wales and my favourite motivational quote has to be:
“What if I fall? Oh but darling what if you fly?”
U Perform: Fantastic quote there Non. Just goes to show that trying and making a mistake is never a failure and you should never give up! On the topic of motivation and inspiration, who inspires you the most?
Non: I’m mostly inspired by the people around me; my teammates. I learn something from all of them on a daily basis; whether it be good habits that they adopt, their professionalism, their mindset and approach to training, life and racing, or the fact that they are very good all round humans.
U Perform: Can’t go wrong with teammates as amazing as yours! Looking ahead to what the world might have in store for you and your sport, what are your plans?
Non: 2021 I will be focusing on the World Triathlon Series, and getting as close to the overall World Series podium as possible.
And then 2022 is all about the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham; a chance to represent Wales on the World stage, and also a chance to go full circle and compete, and hopefully medal, in a major Games in the city where it all began.
U Perform: Lots to come for sure and we are beyond excited to be part of this journey with you! And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.