Cashmore hails Leeds crowd after sprinting to second at World Series

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Claire Cashmore held off Paralympic champion Grace Norman in a sprint finish in Leeds
Claire Cashmore held off Paralympic champion Grace Norman in a sprint finish in Leeds

CLAIRE Cashmore hailed the Roundhay Park crowd for roaring her to second place in a dramatic sprint finish as she completed a British one-two at the AJ Bell 2021 Para Triathlon World Series in Leeds.

The 33-year-old held off 2016 Paralympic champion Grace Norman on the home straight to delight the 4,000 spectators who had already seen Lauren Steadman complete victory in the PTS5 race.

Cashmore now has all eyes on her fifth Paralympics – her first as a triathlete having been to four as a swimmer – and with no overseas supporters allowed into Tokyo, the Redditch-born ace relished the opportunity to perform in front of British fans.

“The crowd were amazing and gave me that little boost – when I was neck and neck with Grace, all I could hear was ‘go Claire’,” she said.

“I seem to really like sprint finishes and if it’s not with Lauren, it’s with Grace, so it was nice to come out on the right side of it.

“Being a home race, you put a lot into it. This is the only time my parents and family will see me race this year so for them it was my ‘mini Tokyo’!

“They were all booked to come out and it’s the first time I’ll have travelled without them to a Paralympics, so it will be hard.

“But them being there is the icing on the cake, so this time we have the cake without the icing. I’ll still go out and be the best I can be.”

Norman and Steadman were first and second in Rio five years ago and Cashmore – who took gold and silver in the pool herself last time out – looks set to rival the duo for top spot come August.

A lack of competitions throughout the pandemic has made progress difficult to judge but this was a successful return to action for the 2018 ITU World Championship silver medallist, who is looking forward to pitting her wits against her rivals on the biggest stage of all.

“It’s always a tough battle between the three of us and it’s a long time since we’ve raced each other but this showed how hard everyone has worked in the past 18 months,” she said.

“No-one has rested on their laurels and it makes for a really exciting Tokyo. Lauren was fantastic and it’s great to have that competitive rivalry within our team.

“It was great to race here and I feel buzzing. It’s so good to be back.”

Saturday’s race marked the first time a Para World Series event has taken place on UK soil and also began a landmark week for Cashmore, whose children’s book ‘Splash’ is released on June 10.

“I’m really passionate about normalising disability and improving representation and visibility so kids can have role models like them,” she said.

“It’s based on my own experiences of conquering fear and it has been a great project to work on over lockdown.”

The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Para Series Leeds is the pinnacle of triathlon competition in the UK and is proudly presented alongside Volvo Car UK

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