By Josh Graham, Sportsbeat
EMOTIONAL Claire Cashmore confessed she will be a bag of nerves and in floods of tears over events in Tokyo – just not her own.
The 33-year-old from Redditch has competed at the last four Paralympics in swimming, taking gold in Rio in the 4x100m medley relay, but will make her debut at the delayed Games as a paratriathlete later this summer.
Before jetting out to Japan, Cashmore cannot wait to take in the Olympics which she admits will have her reaching for the tissues before nervously cheering on partner and fellow paratriathlete Dave Ellis.
“My partner has also been selected so that makes it slightly more special to both go together,” said Cashmore, who is one of more than 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme.
“We’ve had tough times in the past where one of us has been going and the other one hasn’t so it really has been special.
“He’s racing the day before me. Originally, I was racing day one and he was racing day two but now it has switched.
“Much to my annoyance because I am going to be so nervous for him that I am going to be wasting all my energy for my own race.
“It’s horrible – I hate watching somebody you care about and love because you can’t do anything, and you feel so out of control.
“When it’s yourself racing you don’t feel half as nervous. I never understood it when my parents said that.
“They were like ‘we get so nervous watching you’ and I was like ‘what are you talking about? You’ve not got to do anything, you’ve just got to cheer and sit there.’”
As well as a seasoned competitor, Cashmore is a fan and loves the fact she gets to watch the Olympics before the Paralympics gets underway at the end of August.
“Watching the Olympics and watching the incredible sport that goes on, I will be crying my eyes out every single day,” explained Cashmore, who was born without a left forearm.
“I love that four years, or five years in this instance, of hard work, grit and determination that goes into that.
“Watching it all come together and those moments of absolute elation and then also those moments of disappointment, it really pulls on the heart strings and inspires you.
“It’s great that that happens before and I can enjoy it before we go into our event.”
UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme allows Cashmore to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.
Cashmore will be hoping to add to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997 and has shown good form after winning in France and coming second in Spain and Leeds in the PTS5 category in June.
She added: “I know I’m in a good place so it’s just taking that confidence and knowing I’m the best prepared I could possibly be on the start line.”
No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £36 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has on sport at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen