Buckhurst Hill’s Claire Bloom won a bronze medal at the ETU European Sprint Triathlon Championships in the 50 to 54 age group in Kitzbuhel, Austria, last Friday.

Bloom, pictured, was also the first British athlete home in the age group and can now look forward to automatic qualification for the European Championships in Geneva in 2015.

The Austrian course involved a 750m swim in the Schwartzsee Lake, a 19.8km mountainous bike route and a 5km undulating run course around the lake to finish. Bloom completed the course in a combined time of 1.22.45 – 13.22 in the swimming, 42.17 on the bike and running 21.32.

“I was overjoyed to win the bronze as I had never beaten the two GB athletes ahead of me in a race before,” explained Bloom. “There were so many European countries being represented this year it was an honour to compete in this field.

“I was probably strongest on the bike because that course suited me,” admitted Bloom. “It was a hilly, windy course and that suits me a lot better than the fast, flat roads.”

Bloom, who first took up the triathlon to prove to her husband she could swim, added: “I came out of the swim in fifth position and in third place for Great Britain. I mounted the bike and started chasing. I overtook the two GB athletes on the second climb and tried to close the Austrians down. Despite a personal best in the run, I missed out on silver by 38 seconds.

“I also beat my tri racing hero Joyce Mark (55 to 59 age group) to top my day,” she added.

“I can’t thank my coach at RG Active, Dermott Hayes or David Lloyd Leisure for their sponsorship which funded me getting there, enough.”

Bloom will be back in action at the World Championships this August in Edmonton, Canada, after pre-qualifying by finishing 11th in the competition at Hyde Park last year.