A former, well-decorated Paralympian swimmer, in 2017 Claire Cashmore turned her back on the pool and plumped for a career in paratriathlon, and she’s rarely been off the podium ever since.
In fact, later this year, Cashmore will be defending her world title, hoping to register three consecutive triumphs. So who is she and what’s her story? We find out…
Who is Claire Cashmore?
For many years – and across four Paralympic Games – Claire Cashmore was exclusively known for her prowess in the pool.
Born without a left forearm, she won no fewer than eight Paralympic medals in the PTS5 category between Athens in 2004 (when she was just 16) and Rio in 2016.
The following year, disillusioned with the mundanity of swim training, Cashmore decided to broaden her horizons and give paratri a go. It was a smart decision, her early success in the sport well and truly reinvigorating Cashmore’s mojo.
Since that switch in 2017, she’s been a multiple national champion, European champion and two-time world champion.
In Tokyo in the summer of 2021, Cashmore couldn’t quite collect the full set, with time penalties putting paid to dreams of Paralympic glory. She returned to the UK with a bronze medal in her suitcase, rather than the hoped-for gold.
A linguistics graduate and children’s author, the story of Claire Cashmore took on a second volume when she moved to paratri. But she’s not done yet…
How old is Claire Cashmore?
Claire Cashmore was born on 21 May 1988, making her 33 years of age.
Claire Cashmore’s career highlights
July 2017: Early success for the code-switcher
After switching codes from para-swimming, Cashmore takes her first paratri victory at the ITU World Cup race in Altafulla in Catalonia in the PTS5 women category.
A win in the British championship arrives the following month, after which sixth place at the world championships is claimed, a very creditable performance after coming off the bike.
July 2018: A silver at the European champs
At the ETU European Championships in Tartu in Estonia, Cashmore takes silver, beaten only by compatriot and rival Lauren Steadman. Cashmore successfully defends her national title nine days later.
September 2018: Another silver – this time at the worlds
At the paratri world championships on Australia’s Gold Coast, Cashmore has to be content with silver again, as she once more loses out to fellow Englishwoman Steadman.
September 2019: After just two years in the sport, Cashmore is on top of the world
Cashmore wins the world title in Lausanne, exacting revenge for the defeat of 12 months earlier as she pips reigning champion Steadman to the gold by just three seconds.
August 2021: A medal in Tokyo – but ultimately a sense of disappointment
With the 2020 season written off, the Tokyo Paralympics is postopned for a year.
As world champ, Cashmore is arguably the favorite for the gold medal, but a pair of time penalties scupper her chances of overhauling eventual gold medallist Steadman and second-placed Grace Norman of the USA.
Cashmore has to be content with a bronze at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics to add to her collection from her swimming exploits at Paralympics past.
September 2021: Cashmore finally tries on the European crown for size
Less than a month after her disappointment in Tokyo, Cashmore returns to racing with a renewed vigour and becomes European champion in Valencia, her margin of victory over France’s Gwladys Lemoussu being in excess of four minutes.
November 2021: A successful defense of the world title
Cashmore carries this strong form into the world championships in Abu Dhabi where she retains her crownfinishing nearly a minute ahead of the American Norman.
Claire Cashmore in quotes
On moving from swimming to triathlon: “When I was a swimmer, I felt like a zombie. Mentally it is tough, following a black line [in the pool]. So going into a sport where you can be out on the road and see so many beautiful little towns and villages is amazing.”
On Paralympic paratri bronze after incurring two time penalties in Tokyo: “I was proud that I hung on for bronze, but I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to show what shape I was in and be part of the battle. Of course, the medals might not have changed whatsoever…”
On competing at the Paralympics during a pandemic: “Normally you have a bit of time after your race to celebrate. You get to go to the closing ceremony and enjoy all the celebrations, whereas there was none of that this time. Forty-eight hours after your race, you’re on a plane home, like nothing ever happened.”
What’s next for Claire Cashmore?
With the next Paralympics two years away, don’t bet against Cashmore, who’ll be 36 by then, heading to Paris and her sixth Games for another tilt at gold. For now, a third immediate world title has to be the immediate ambition.
Top image credit: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon