REDDITCH-born swimmer Claire Cashmore was in relaxed mood as she headed out to Rio to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games.
Cashmore is one of four Northumbria University students chasing gold in Brazil but the 28-year-old, who is combining a Leadership and Management masters degree at the Newcastle university with a 12th season of international swimming, is determined not to put too much pressure on herself.
She said: “For me it’s about going to Rio, following a process and being the best that I can possibly be.
“In the past I’ve become fixated on winning the gold but you can’t determine the medal before you get there.
“As I’ve become older and more experienced I’ve realised it just doesn’t make sense to put that kind of pressure on yourself.
“If I can race the best race that I could then I have to be happy with that. Being the best that I can be is my mantra now.”
Cashmore has been competing for Great Britain for 12 years and has felt her excitement for the Rio Games build over the past month.
“As soon as the Rio Olympics started and I was watching all of the action from the pool it hit home,” she added.
“This is real. I found myself getting emotionally involved from the first minute and I lived, ate and breathed the Olympics for two weeks.
“I just love it. It’s so exciting to think I’m about to compete.”
The BA (Hons) Leadership and Management course is an innovative work-related degree programme designed to fit alongside an athlete’s existing sports career. It gives credit for prior sports training while preparing students for a career in leadership or management.
The course makes the most of a sportsperson’s wealth of management skills and competencies. Having supported many sports professionals in the past, the university appreciates the need for complete learning flexibility.
As such, whilst completing the course students will receive ongoing individual guidance from tutors across Newcastle Business School, alongside full access to the range of on-site and distance learning resources available.
Cashmore was persuaded to go for gold in Rio by Northumbria University’s head of swimming Louise Graham and has since encouraged fellow swimmers to check out the university’s academic and sporting package.
“I worked with Louise in 2012 and it’s been great to work with her at Northumbria,” she added.
“The support I get from the university as a swimmer and a student is invaluable. There aren’t many universities out there that can offer the same level of dual support.”
The swimming begins on Thursday and will be running on eight of the ten Paralympic competition days.
Cashmore, who boasts a World and European Championships medal list too long to mention, won two silver and one bronze medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, adding to the three bronze medals claimed at previous Games in Athens and Beijing.