NORTH Yorkshire heart patient Martin Harman will compete for Great Britain in the European Triathlon Championships in Israel next year.

The 38-year-old, of Elvington, near York, suffers from atrial fibrillation – a type of abnormal heart. He was diagnosed following an operation in 2006 which was believed to have caused the first episode of the illness.

Since diagnosis, Harman has learned how to manage his condition and after a period of time was able to return back to work and slowly start exercising again.

Harman, a director of Aqua Point Ltd, in Malton, took up the sport three years ago after a gym instructor mentioned how well and fit he was looking, joking that he “would be participating in a triathlon next”.

After six months of training, Harman, pictured above, competed in his first triathlon in Driffield and raised £1,000 for the Atrial Fibrillation Association.

He said: “It was such an emotional moment and I had enjoyed it so much I thought I would do another one.”

His ambitions were delayed, however, after he suffered a serious ligament injury.

Since then, Harman has resumed training and was thrilled to qualify for the European Championships which take place in Eilat, Israel, on April 19, 2012.

He also hopes to represent his country at the World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand, next October. The qualifiers for these events will be in June and July next year.

Harman, a member of York Triathlon Club, competes in the Olympic distance, which comprises a gruelling 1,500-metre swim, 40-kilometre cycle and a 10k run.

Harman said: “While I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of the sport, it is also my way of proving to myself that atrial fibrillation may well live with me, but it will not live ‘for me’.”

He is now looking for sponsorship to cover travel costs to the championships, as well as raise money for the AFA.

Unlike other sports, there is little funding and the British Triathlon World Class lottery only supports a small number of athletes either performing at international level or who have the potential to compete at the highest level in the events beyond the 2012 Olympics. Harman has set up a blog detailing his training progress at as well as a Just Giving page for sponsorship and donations at