Named after St David’s mother St Non, triathlete Non Stanford is deeply proud of her Welsh roots.
But success for Wales will be success for Leeds with the girl dubbed ‘a female Brownlee’ in love with Yorkshire two years on from her arrival.
Stanford, 24, is the current under-23 world champion who is fourth in the Elite Women World Series in which she tasted victory in Madrid in June. And key to the relentless progress has been the Swansea-born star’s move to Leeds to join the city’s thriving triathlon scene – highlighted by an Olympic gold and bronze respectively for brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee last summer.
Given that Stanford now shares the same coaches in Malcolm Brown and Jack Maitland, it is little wonder she is being touted as an athlete capable of following in the duo’s footsteps.
Stanford admits there’s a way to go before that can happen but any future glories will be not just for Wales and Team GB but also for Leeds.
Stanford, advised to move to Leeds to strengthen her career by her mentor Dame Kelly Holmes, told the YEP: “I’m definitely Welsh and very, very proud to be Welsh as well. I think being brought up in South Wales it’s bred into you to be a proud Welsh woman.
“But I’ve been in Yorkshire for two years now and this is a very proud area and you do get attached to a place. I am quite proud to say that I live in Yorkshire now and that I am starting to understand it a bit more and I am getting closer ties to Yorkshire. Leeds is a long way from home but it’s been fantastic since I’ve moved here and it’s obviously working out really well.”
Stanford’s relocation to Leeds actually came from Birmingham where she had been at University studying sports science. Initially moving to a house-share in West Park, Stanford has now relocated to a new property in Cookridge with her boyfriend David McNamee who is also an international triathlete representing Great Britain and Scotland. With studies a thing of the past, for both all focus is on thriving on the international triathlon front with Stanford targeting a podium finish from this year’s World Series followed by success for Wales at next year’s Commonwealth Games. But the long-term aim is unquestionably the Rio Olympic Games of 2016 when Stanford – daughter of Gill and John – deeply hopes to join the brothers she is compared to in South America.
“That’s the big one isn’t it?” admitted Stanford, whose own 28-year-old brother Rhodri is an international lacrosse player.
“Everyone wants to go to the Olympics and last year I think everybody was somehow inspired by the Games – even people who didn’t do sport. Gosh, if I could get to Rio that would be fantastic but we’ll have to see. Fingers crossed I’ll be in Rio.”
Reflecting on the Brownlees comparisons, Stanford smiled: “People have been saying some nice things like she is the female version of a Brownlee after my race in Madrid and that is incredibly flattering. But that is a massive, massive thing to live up to as the boys are just phenomenal. I try not to think about those sorts of comparisons and I’m a different athlete to the boys. Yes, things are going really well, but sport is very fickle and you never know what is around the corner. Hopefully I can keep producing the performances.
“I have definitely got the right team and experienced team around me and if I could achieve anything near what those two have done I would be pretty delighted!”