Swimming: Adopted city’s Euro swim star Cashmore targets Rio

Claire Cashmore.
Claire Cashmore.
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Claire Cashmore was born in Redditch, but after the Paralympian came to university in the city, the people of Leeds have claimed her for their own.

And that support has been rewarded handsomely, as Cashmore has enjoyed a prolificly successful career, from the moment she burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old bronze medalist in the 2004 Athens Paralympics through to her recent successes at the European Championships in Eindhoven.

“Yorkshire and Leeds have been great to me, they’ve supported me so much through everything, they’ve adopted me for one of their own,” Cashmore told the YEP.

“It’s really nice that they’ve been so interested and so supportive and I don’t think that a lot of areas do that.”

Cashmore’s performance in Eindhoven earlier this month was perhaps the greatest of her career so far, as she won her first individual gold medal in the SB8 100m breaststroke, as well as a second gold in the medley relay.

“It’s been one that has been missing from my collection for a long, long time, and though people say ‘it’s only Europeans, it’s not World Championship’, actually, for me, the girl who always beats me (Russian, Olesya Vladykina) is European, so to share the gold medal with her was really amazing.

“And it was the first time I felt like I’d actually raced my own race and achieved what I should achieve in a race, which was really good.”

After such successes, Cashmore could be forgiven for resting on her laurels but she has already set her sights on more medals in tournaments coming up over the next couple of years.

“Rio is the bigger picture, but there’s a few other things before that. We’ve got the National Paralympic Day on the August 31 down in London,” said Cashmore, who hopes that the event can carry on the legacy and inspire more people to get involved with sport.

“Next year I’ve got World Championships, so obviously that’s the next big thing. It’s going to be an exciting year ahead and then, before we know it, we’re going to be in Rio, which is crazy. I can’t believe we’re almost two years away!”

Cashmore has swum at the Maracana pool in Rio before, and she says that it’s “a lucky place” after she broke the world record in SM9 100m individual medley at the 2009 World Short Course Championships. And she is targeting further success in the 2016 Paralympics.

“Obviously my main focus will be my breaststroke, but I love racing and I want to do as many events as I can.”

The Rio games may be only two years away now, but Cashmore is trying not to look too far into the future. However, one career path that does appeal to her could see her branching into the world of children’s entertainment.

“I’d love to be a Blue Peter presenter, although the programme is starting to drift away a little bit isn’t it, that’s the only problem.

“Blue Peter has definitely been a dream job since I was a girl.

“But I’m too addicted to swimming right now to think about the future. I’ve got to the stage now in my life where I take each year as it comes.

“Rio is obviously the big goal, and that’s the one that I really want to do, and then after Rio I’ll have to really assess.

“I’ve got lots of challenges in my life that I want to do, little things like running a marathon, travelling the world and stuff like that.

“I’m getting a little older now so, after Rio, I might just decide to do those things!”