IF it had not been for a shout from the crowd, 66-year-old Mike Anthony might not have been competing in the Ironman World Championships in Hawai’i this Saturday.

Anthony, who races for Wilmslow’s SCARAB Tri club, was starting to struggle in this summer’s Bolton Ironman when a voice he recognised gave him the inspiration to carry on.

As a result, now he’s got potential 32 degrees heat, 80% humidity, 50mph winds and lava fields to contend with in what is the most iconic 140.6-mile journey of swimming, running and cycling of them all.

“Bolton Ironman in August was going to be my last one for a while,” said Mike, a retired bread delivery driver who competes in the 65-70 years category.

“But on the second lap of the marathon Susan Dickenson who was supporting her husband James shouted to me I only have to finish to get automatic qualification for the Word Championships in Kona.

“I asked how, and she said the other guys in my age group did not finish.

“I was really struggling with cramp in my legs but I somehow managed to get to the finish line.

“It wasn’t a great time, 16hrs 40mins, but I got there, so it’s off to Hawai’i.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected that, but the Ironman motto is Anything is Possible.

“Hawai’i Ironman is supposed to be one of the toughest so it’s unknown territory.”

He stepped off a plane from a holiday in Santorini at the weekend and literally got on the flight to Hawai’i to be able to acclimatise and make final preparations for his 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle stint and 26.2-mile marathon run.

Fellow members of the club will be eager to learn how he performs.

Andrew Preece said: “I’m understandably chuffed about him qualifying and all at the club are really pleased for him and supportive.

“He’s been with us for a long time, he’s a great character and a great bloke to have achieved this.

“Mike’s a very self-motivating sort of guy and drives himself hard, so he hasn’t needed us to push him along in training.

“Since he retired 12 months ago he’s been able to put even more time into it and took it from there.”

Mike said he has been active throughout his life, mostly swimming and running, but then got introduced to triathlons who visited his local club for training in the pool.

“Twenty-odd years ago it was just in its infancy and they told me about an event at Marbury Park, it was called Try a Tri which I entered and was smitten, I loved it.

“I inspired my friend Simon Clapham and he later formed Scarab Tri (Swimmers Can Also Run And Bike). Most of us were from a swimming background, and from then on Simon and myself have entered quite a few over the years from sprint, Olympic and recently Ironman.”

Clapham is coach of the club, which is based at Wilmslow Leisure Centre, and also has a coaching role at Wilmslow Swimming Club.

Mike will not be the first member he’s seen qualify and compete in a world championship.

Lewis Sanderson qualified for the same event a few years ago, while back in 2010 Christian Preece won his age group at the World Duathlon Championships in Edinburgh.

Next July Katie Thompson will represent Team GB in the F35-39 age group at the European Triathlon Championships in Tartu, Estonia.

“We’ve had a fair amount of success from a small club,” said Andrew, father of the aforementioned Christian.

“A lot of it is from the effort that people are prepared to put in themselves.

“Although we’re a small club, we’re a friendly club and could do with all the help we can in terms of membership so if Mike’s achievements help him and us then that would be great.”

Mike Parsons