Having grown up playing rugby, running and working as a lifeguard in South Africa, Devilliers Van Den Brink started regularly taking part in triathlon when he moved to England in 2008 and started on a journey that would see him represent Great Britain and become English National Champion.
“I started competing in more triathlons but never thought I’d win anything,” Van Den Brink said. “I did it for the fun of it and the IRONMAN thing kicked in and triathlon started taking over my life.
“I can remember my first Triathlon England Championships, it was at the Dambuster in 2015, and competing against the rest of the country was an eye opening that I need to take this a bit more seriously if I want to get somewhere.”
Having had his eyes opened to the challenge of competing and placing well in the national championships, Van Den Brink was spurred on by his competitive edge and his wife to come back stronger.
“I don’t like losing and the way I did was just embarrassing,” he commented. “My wife said to me ‘you need to start taking this seriously or stick to doing it for fun’.”
Four years on from Van Den Brink’s first time racing at a national championship, he competed in the 2019 Triathlon England Middle Distance Championships at The Deva Triathlon where he was crowned champion in the men’s 35-39 category.
The year before, Van Den Brink had competed in the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in South Africa and, despite the achievement of reaching the championships, his result spurred him on for better things the following year.
“I was quite nervous after what had happened the championships before,” Van Den Brink added. “This time I knew what was coming up so I was a bit more prepared. The mental side was part of it because you need to think of yourself as one of the top guys and have a bit of self-belief.
“It was just one of those races where everything just clicks. Very rarely you get a race where you just think everything is perfect, and that’s just what happened.
“I finished and the results came up and I didn’t really understand, I didn’t really get it and then afterwards the guy explained that I had actually won and it was just insane. I was shocked because I thought they’d got the results wrong.
“I drove back that afternoon and she and my daughter were at home waiting for me with a medal that my daughter had made and they were over the moon.”
Triathlon England coordinate a series of championship events each year where Core and Ultimate members can compete to become national champion in standard distance aquathlon and duathlon and sprint, standard and middle distance and relay triathlon.
The 2021 Middle Distance Championships is scheduled to take place in July at the Festival of Endurance and, although Van Den Brink won’t be heading there to defend his title, he offers this piece of advice to anyone thinking about taking part in a national championships.
“You’ve got to enjoy the experience,” Van Den Brink commented. “Even if it’s your first championships and you get absolutely kicked, use it as a learning experience and enjoy the atmosphere knowing you’re surrounded by the best triathletes in the country.”
If you’re looking for a swim, bike, run challenge in 2021, why not take part in a Triathlon England Championship. You can find out more about the national championships and see where they are scheduled to take place by clicking on the link below.