SWINDON’S Leigh Schvartz claimed his first medal at a major international event after scooping bronze at the Duathlon European Championships in Romania last month.

The 29-year-old – who was born in Swindon but now lives in Twickenham – travelled to Targu Mures with hopes of improving on the seventh position he achieved in the 2018 edition, but said he had no expectations of ending the 27.5km event on the podium.

Schvartz, who claimed his bronze in the 25-29-year-old category thanks to a cumulative time of 59mins 32secs, initially began competing in duathlon races after being involved in a nasty accident as a youngster that meant he could no longer practice martial arts.

Advised by a doctor to take part in something with less chance of contact, he opted for triathlon, yet a lack of swimming strength ultimately steered him towards the dual-event format in 2014.

With a strong cycling pedigree under his belt – thanks to his father’s involvement with Swindon Cycles – Schvartz made great strides before qualifying to compete internationally for Team GB in 2017.

The 29-year-old continued his upward trend in duathlon by finishing seventh in the 2018 European Championships before a sensational third-place finish in the latest edition in June.

Reflecting on the event that brought him a maiden international medal, Schvartz said: “I was really happy with the race.

“I’d done a few of these draft legal races before and never done particularly well because I hadn’t approached the races in a strategic way.

“Whereas, in this race, I was more pleased with my performance because I took much more of a strategic view.

“At the first transition change, I eased off at the end of the first run to ensure I was with a bigger group for the bike.

“That only happened because of the experience I had obtained previously.

“We then quite quickly caught the faster runners because the group I was in were able to share the workload.

“In the final run, I was able to produce my fastest ever 2.5km run time because my legs weren’t screaming at me.”

Schvartz has ambitions to compete at the Duathlon World Championships in Amsterdam next year before turning his attention back to triathlon now that his swimming has improved.

Looking back at the moment he stood on the podium in front of his family, the jovial endurance athlete says he now has the taste for glory and is eyeing more in the years ahead.

“I lost one position on the final run, but as I crossed the line, I thought I was in third, although I didn’t actually know,” said Schvartz.

“You don’t get official clarification until a couple of hours afterwards because there are so many different age groups and it’s all a bit hectic.

“But it was pretty special when we found out and I’m glad a lot of my family were there to see me on the podium.”