A North East school teacher and paratriathlon winner secured his Team GB spot at the World Championships in Abu Dhabi.

Mike Salisbury, geography teacher at Dame Allan's School, in Fenham, finished eighth and was the highest placed Brit in the PTS5 men’s race at the high-profile event in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

The 35-year-old secured his place for Team GB after a number of successes, including a gold medal win at the British Paratriathlon Championship in July. 

The assistant head of sixth form who was born with a congenital limb defect to his left arm finished the course on Yas Island in just over an hour.

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Speaking on his success, he said: “I was aiming for a top ten finish, so I’m definitely happy.

"Being part of a huge team of athletes, ranging in experience from people like myself making their debut at the World Championships to multiple world champions and Paralympic and Olympic medallists, has been the highlight for me.

“The swim was in Al Raha creek and the water temperature was 28 degrees, which meant it was a non-wetsuit swim.

"Wetsuits help with buoyancy so the swim times were a bit slower than normal."

In very high temperatures, he managed to finish the course with a time of 1:03:55, and credited his heat training for his performance.

In preparation for the event, he underwent heat training in Newcastle and his finish seems to be testament to its effectiveness.

Mr Salisbury is also a fully-qualified mountain leader with World Challenge Expeditions, and has led school trips to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in extreme conditions.

He said: "The run course was a flat two lap course along the corniche, which sounds easy but there was nowhere to hide from the heat.

"I felt well prepared for this having done some heat prep beforehand but it really takes it out of you!”

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Meanwhile, he is planning to use his experience to launch and run an athletic mentoring programme at his school, supporting pupils who also play high-level sport. 

The school, which holds 1,200 pupils from nursery and sixth form, has backed Mr Salisbury's efforts and praised his achievements.

In a statement, Will Scott, principal of Dame Allan's Schools, said: “Mike has proved time and again how ambitious and capable he is on the paratriathlon circuit, and all at Dame Allan’s - pupils and staff alike - feel incredibly proud of his achievements.”

He competes in the PTS5 paratriathlon classification for ambulant athletes with mild impairments, and is ranked 16 in the world in his category and second in the UK.

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