TRIATHLON star Kiera Tippett insists being crowned European champion has yet to sink in.

Tippett won gold in the female 18-19 year-old category at the European Championships.

And the Benfleet-based 19-year-old was delighted to seal top spot thanks to her time of two hours, 19 minutes and nine seconds in Tartu, Estonia.

Tippett said: “Being called a European champion has still not sunk in yet.

“I don’t think you can ever get used to people calling you a European champion.

“To be honest, I don’t want to get used to being called a European champion because it would mean I expect more.

“Tartu was such a beautiful place and the course was one of the best I have ever competed on.

“There were open roads for the bike ride and my mum, who flew over to support me, saw me eight times on the course and that never happens because the courses are not usually so spectator orientated.

“My dad had to stay at home, but my parents cried when I won.”

The former King John School pupil required 22 minutes and 29 seconds to complete the 1.5km swim, before Tippett raced through the 40km bike ride in just one hour, 10 minutes and seven seconds.

Tippett crossed the finish line after a 10km run, which lasted 43 minutes and 48 seconds.

Despite coming away as European champion, Tippett admitted she travelled to Estonia with no expectations.

Tippett added: “I underwent shoulder surgery in February and that meant I had to keep it in one position for six weeks.

“I thought I would not be able to compete in the European Championships at certain stages.

“But then, when I went into it, I thought I would just use it as a very difficult practice run for the World Championships.

“To come away as European champion was a huge surprise and I think that made it even better.”

And Tippett is looking forward to competing in the World Championships, which will be held in Australia in September.

“I cannot wait to compete in Australia,” admitted Tippett. “But being European champion will not change the way I go into it.

“I don’t like setting targets because that will put pressure on me. I will just enjoy myself and do my best.”

Tippett thanked sponsors Richardsons Cycles, Sovereign, Rippleside Metalworks and the Essex and Southend Sports Charitable Fund, along with coach Kris Whitmarsh.