Hannah Kitchen won the European Triathlon Union Elite Aquathlon in Germany on Saturday.

The Rickmansworth-based triathlete scooped gold in Cologne by finishing 24 seconds ahead of her nearest rival in 33.39, following a 1km swim and flat 5km run.

Kitchen finished second in the same event 12 months earlier and went into the competition as one of the favourites, that despite a troubled winter which included a foot problem.

She said: “I was over the moon to come across the line first and become European Champion. One better from last year and after the winter I have had, it is definitely a step in the right direction. My run still needs a lot of work but I’ll get there.”

The former Watford Girls Grammar School pupil continued: “The race was great, exactly what I had hoped for. It was a non-wetsuit swim and I managed to get clear water and get an early lead. I had a decent gap getting out of the water (25 seconds) and it was quite a long run up a lot of steps to transition.

“There was great support from the age groupers, which really helped, as well as having my parents there as well.

“It is always hard leading from the front and seeing the others chasing you from behind, at every turn you could see your competitors so I always had a good idea of the gap. It was a case of hanging on, not losing any time or my position.”

Favourite prior to the race for the first time, Kitchen felt she dealt with the additional pressure well and her medal bears testament to that: “I usually get a bit nervous but it is good to have some nerves and as long as you are confident [you can overcome it]. I think it went quite well, though!”

And Kitchen believes she reaped the reward of competing at the event a year ago: “Cologne is a great city to race in and it was really helpful knowing the course and city from last year and made the whole trip a lot less stressful than travelling can sometimes be. I stayed in the same places and ate in the same place as before.

“Overall it was a great weekend in the Great Britain kit and I could not have asked for a better race and to return home with the gold.”

She added: “I now need to decide if I will head to Chicago in September for the International Triathlon Union World Aquathlon Championships, where I finished third last year in Edmonton.

“But next up is my first ETU European Cup race in France in a couple of weeks and then the next two rounds of the British Elite Super Series in Liverpool and London.”