GB's Cashmore leaving no stone unturned ahead of Tokyo challenge

Cashmore was speaking at an event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Lottery funding

Claire Cashmore may have the experience of four Paralympic Games as a swimmer but she knows that won’t make competing in triathlon in Tokyo any easier, writes Ella Jerman.

Cashmore, who has won Paralympic swimming medals at the past four Games, made the switch to triathlon post-Rio after the sport she has always loved was finally introduced to the Paralympic programme. 

Changing sports may seem a big step for some, but the Kidderminster athlete certainly has no regrets about her decision, having already met the qualification standard for Tokyo after being crowned as para triathlon world champion in Lausanne in September. 

For Cashmore, it’s the conditions that will pose the biggest problem in Tokyo, but the 31-year-old says she will be doing all she can to adjust. 

“It’s the best change I could have made,” she said. 

“I used to run as a kid and I always fancied triathlon, but it was never in the Paralympic Games. It made its debut in Rio and that was when I decided I wanted to give it a go. 

“I knew it was the right time for a change – Triathlon is the kind of sport where you need four years at least to nail it all, you’re trying to get your head around three sports! 

“To qualify for my fifth Paralympic Games would be incredible. We are just making sure we are the best prepared team by doing loads of heat acclimatisation work and hopefully we’ll be standing on that start line next year.”

Cashmore was speaking at the Olympic Park in Stratford, where she joined 25 past and present British athletes to mark the 25-year anniversary of the National Lottery.

Since the National Lottery’s first draw took place on 19 November 1994, more than £40 billion has been raised for good causes in the areas of arts, sport, heritage, culture, film, charity and community, with more than 4,500 elite athletes receiving grants enabling them to access the best coaching, facilities and support staff in the world.

Before funding began for elite sport, Great Britain were ranked 36th in the medal table at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, but at Rio 2016 – after almost two decades of funding – Team GB finished second. 

Finding funding as an athlete can be hard enough, let alone when you try to switch sports in the middle of your career. Without the help of National Lottery, Cashmore knows she would never have had the opportunity to even think about switching to triathlon ahead of Tokyo.

“After Rio, I managed to switch to para-triathlon after going through a talent transfer programme. I was still funded through the programme, which was so important because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to commit fully,” she added.

“I couldn’t really ask for more. I’ve been able to access world-class facilities, training opportunities which wouldn’t have been possible before. 

“It’s been quite a successful journey so far and hopefully competing at Tokyo is on the horizon.”

Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has had on your community over the past 25 years by visiting and get involved by using the 25th hashtag: #NationalLottery25