Finish Line of Ironman UK: A touching proposal story
This is something you do not see too often, a proposal story from an Ironman triathlon. After being beaten by his wife-to-be, Phil Love decided it was the right time to pop the question.
Our proposal story starts with mother of three, Sam Leliuga. The 38 year old has been facing obstacles and battling personal demons for most of her life. She started suffering from eating disorders after her parents had divorced when she was eight. She got a breast reduction to try and boost her confidence. But when her father suddenly died of a heart attack when she was 26, she stopped eating altogether. She went on to have her third child, but then her mum, Breyl died of cancer.
Her life started to turn around when she met Phil Love five years ago.
Having competed in Ironman before, Love introduced Leliuga to the world of triathlon and training for one. She began running herself, competing in half marathons, before signing up for this year’s Ironman UK with Love.
A rigorous training programme began and the mum-of-three battled hard to build her fitness up to be able to do the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and the 26.2 mile run. The training paid off because, not only did she make it across the finishing line, but she beat her partner to it — and while she enjoyed a post-triathlon pizza, Love eventually appeared and got down on one knee.
Leliuga, from Firwood Lane, Tonge Moor, said: “I missed the initial proposal Phil did over the tannoy because I was on my phone listening to voicemails. He told me to stand in the square and I heard a man announcing something but didn’t make the connection. So when he did it in the marquee I didn’t expect it at all. I was freezing sitting with foil blanket wrapped round me, eating pizza and he got down on one knee. I was in total shock.”
“I feel like I have overcome all my demons from the past because I never would have thought years ago that I could do something like this.”
“I got into running when I met Phil five years ago and he slowly started teaching me about exercise and the importance of eating properly to stop myself from starving.”
Love, a psychiatric nurse, added “This was my comeback Ironman because I had a bike crash a few years ago and I was a bit apprehensive about it because I really needed to beat Sam to be there at the finishing line to propose.”
“But Sam is incredible and she beat me – she had a belting race.”
“There was no Plan B for the proposal really. I was just so ecstatic for her but realised that I’d have to do it in the marquee.”
“I got down on one knee in front of everyone and asked her to marry me.”
“She was crying with happiness and thankfully she said yes. At least we know we’ll never forget that day again.”