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Claire Cashmore believes the World Triathlon Para Series coming to Swansea this summer has the potential to ignite a new era of visibility for her sport, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.
Cashmore, originally a Paralympic swimming champion, is now one of the world’s best paratriathletes who will descend on South Wales on August 6.
The event will feature elite and pathway action alongside open events, giving anyone and everyone the chance to take part during the day.
The 33-year-old, who won eight Paralympic medals in the pool, made the transition to paratriathlon after the Games in Rio 2016, and the decision paid dividends when she claimed PTS5 bronze in Tokyo last summer.
Now the 2019 World Champion is encouraging others to experience the spirit and the thrill of the swim, cycle, run, and join her on the start-line, where the city bay will provide the perfect backdrop.
“I think it is really exciting,” Cashmore said. “I’m hoping, and believe, this will be the start of something really special – hopefully getting more and more people involved in such a brilliant sport.
“It is huge for showcasing our sport – which still at the moment is probably not as visible as it could be.
“We don’t have a huge amount of coverage, so people aren’t probably as aware of the different routes to getting involved in paratriathlon.
“By having the elite race coinciding with the (mass) participation event in the afternoon, having grassroots side-by-side with the top of our sport – that will help people see what it is all about and hopefully encourage others to get involved.
“It’ll be a brilliant event and the more people we can get down to watch or take part will help.”
‘A picture paints a 1000 words!’
As you can probably tell I am pretty chuffed to win World Champs.
Thanks for all the support online or on the course, it is greatly appreciated.#grandfinal #lausanne #gold #earlycelebration pic.twitter.com/EPut56Zgzl
— Claire Cashmore MBE PLY (@ClaireCashmore) September 2, 2019
Cashmore is counting down the days – 100 – to go until the event, which, unlike the Paralympics, will provide spectators the chance to see Cashmore and her competitors up close and in-person.
And Cashmore is determined to put on a show they’ll remember.
“Other than the World Championships this is the highest calibre of event in the calendar this year – it is a huge deal,” she said.
“We only have three World Series events this year, so to have one in Swansea with a British crowd, I hope this will have a huge impact.
“People underestimate how a home event can give you a real advantage, that extra push.”
Cashmore also wants the event to highlight the unique, inclusive nature of her sport, introduced six years ago at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
“This is the one of the things that is really special about triathlon that gets missed,” Cashmore explained. “At every race I have gone to throughout my career, you have a real mix of ages, abilities, and everything.
“It is not elitist. There aren’t many other sports where you can have participants involved on the same start line as the elite guys.
“It shows triathlon as accessible and approachable. We have a nice community that everyone can be involved in at the same time.”
Cashmore herself was a novice cyclist when switching sports. In 2019 she was World Champion.
She added: “As a kid I did run and swim. I never cycled to any real level before. But when paratriathlon had its debut, I realised I could compete as a Paralympian.
“Then I was getting a bit stagnant with swimming after Rio. Giving a lot of effort and not getting much return. It was the best time to make the switch.
“I stepped outside my comfort zone, but it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Even though it was really intimidating.
“But as soon as I made the switch I felt really included, I think that says a lot about the sport.”
Swim, bike, run in Britain will have a 2022 to remember with AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds on 11-12 June, triathlon and paratriathlon at Birmingham Commonwealth Games on 29 and 31 July, and Volvo 2022 World Triathlon Para Series Swansea on 6 August. https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/major-events