A SPORTSMAN from the district has won a bronze medal at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in France.

Wylam’s Noel Stoddart was leading the over 40s 500m lightweight category - before settling for third place in Paris where he was up against competitors from across the globe.

It’s the latest in a series of achievements for the 42-year-old, who is also a keen runner, and trained as a youngster in London with Olympic champion Mo Farah.

Back in December, Noel became British indoor rowing champion in his age group, at Lee Valley Velodrome in the Olympic Park, London

And last month, he broke a British record for 40-plus competitors, smashing the previous record of 1m 25.5s, with a new time of 1m 25.2s.

“I’m really pleased,” said Noel, who is vice-principal at Kenton School in Newcastle.

“I went to Paris with the intention of winning. When I realised I was in the lead after 150m, I perhaps got a little bit excited. I was tied for the lead after 300m but faded in the final 200m.

“I usually finish strongly but I think my over enthusiasm caused me to tire in the closing stages. I am not disappointed however, it was a proud moment to receive a medal.”

This was a first world championship for Noel, who finished third behind the winner, from France, and the runner-up, from Italy.

Originally from Newcastle, he ran with Elswick Harriers as a child, before moved to London to study sports science after leaving school. While in the capital, he joined Borough of Hounslow AC, where a young Farah was also a member.

“This was about 20 years ago,” said Noel. “Mo came up to the North-East and took part in the Elswick Good Friday Relays, an event which now takes place at Newburn.”

While Farah went on to become one of the world’s most decorated middle-distance runners, Noel took up indoor rowing.

“I don’t have the flexibility with my time to commit to outdoor water rowing,” he admitted. “But I enjoy being part of the indoor rowing community.”

Noel, who is also a cyclist, is a member of the Esprit Indoor Rowing Team.

“We have a very active online community. The world championships enabled me to meet many other rowers in person.”