LOUISE Grace defied the odds to set a new sprint triathlon personal best.

The 39-year-old, who is based in Rochford, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis two years ago.

But the inspirational mum of three has continued to battle against the illness - culminating in her best ever display in the World Series Triathlon series in Abu Dhabi last weekend.

“I was very anxious going into this because I had treatment in December which was brutal,” said Grace.

“However, with the support of everyone at Hockley Gym and my family and friends, I was able to get out there and once it all got underway I felt really good.

“I loved every minute of it in the end.”

The triathlon started with a 750 metre sea swim before a 20km bike ride around the Yas Marina Formula One track and a 5km run.

And Grace found the course challenging yet rewarding after making a stunning start in the sea.

“Usually I get 200m into the swim and hate it but this time I managed to enjoy it and I was 25 minutes off my PB,” said Grace.

“The bike ride was against the wind so it was hard on the legs but the run was amazing because everyone was so supportive and there was a lot of encouragement from other athletes.”

The Abu Dhabi triathlon came after Grace had completed her own ‘six months of madness’ which saw her compete in a number of varying events to raise money for the MS Society.

“I did a few 10k races, the Southend Triathlon, an inflatable fun run with my children, the Royal Parks Half Marathon, which was my first half marathon, and a Wolf Run event with my family,” said Grace.

“I wanted to raise money for the MS Society to help them find a cure and I feel that this latest triathlon closes the beginning chapter of my illness especially as I went to Abu Dhabi two years ago to do the same event just two days after my diagnosis.

“But completing it again means I can go forward with maybe living with MS rather than coping with the diagnosis.”

Grace completed the challenging course in one hour, 54 minutes and was joined at the event by her father Stephen, who also set a new PB.

“Dad retired earlier this year and only started running four years ago,” said Grace. “Since then he has done several Ironman races and is competing in a World Championship event which is being held in Spain in May.

“But I think I might just watch this time!”