Cheryl Bradshaw, 33, (pictured left) joined a triathlon club in March and was chuffed to complete her first disability mini triathlon in West Lothian in May this year. Quickly followed in June by the Great Women’s 10k run in Glasgow.
She described how she started: “I was looking for something to do to improve my fitness but I was bored of going to the gym and thought I need a new challenge.”
Her ambitions always included taking part in 10k runs, then building up to marathons and ultimately triathlons.
“I never knew how to go about it and find the right kind of people to help,” she said.
Cheryl, from North Lanarkshire, had many knock-backs before finding an inclusive club.
“I contacted a lot of triathlon clubs but they either didn’t get back to me or said they couldn’t accommodate me.
“Many clubs are not inclusive enough or maybe they are overwhelmed by the thought of a blind person wanting to do a triathlon.”
The club organised guides to accompany her during her training and are fundraising to buy a tandem bike that she can use.
“It’s much better than the gym – I like that you’ve always got a goal and people pushing you. You’ve got competition too and I’m getting to be quite competitive.”
She currently joins their running training once a week and plans to move on to the cycling and swimming sessions soon.
“I’m doing it in wee sections just to get everything right.”
Cheryl would like more paratriathlons to be organised Scotland since most are held in England or further afield.
“The location of events can be difficult to get to and I think there is not enough help out there. You need to have a list of guides that you are happy to run with and in my case you have some in place before you book in to any events.”
Cheryl enthuses about the expertise of the guides: “It’s the little things that make a difference. During warm up the coaches are good at describing what I need to do. How to do a squat or what body part to stretch. The things people take for granted.
“So it’s good on them. It helps people who are disadvantaged who are keen to do sports but they can’t because perhaps their family are not into it.
“It gives them a purpose to train as well. If they are having a lazy day I’m going to be there so they must be. Last night it was chucking it down and one of the guides said they could quite easily have made an excuse not to come.”
She explains what works best for her in the running discipline: “If they are the same height as me that makes a difference. I think it’s because your arm needs to move at the same time – it’s hard to explain.
"If they can get into the same motion of running that helps so they aren’t in front and I’m not getting dragged behind.”
Cheryl is hugely versatile and participates in many sports including blind tennis and tandem cycling at Glasgow’s Velodrome. She is especially fond of skiing with Disability Snowsport UK.
Despite working as a receptionist for Glasgow council she still finds time to volunteer in her free time.
She is on the committee of the Saltire Strikers ten pin bowling club in Glasgow. For over nine years she has helped many who are blind and visually impaired enjoy their events.
Cheryl also volunteers at various sports events which in the past has included the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and The Great Scottish Run.
“I do it because it gets you out and about and you are meeting new people. It is good for the CV because it shows that you do things other than work.
“I’m looking forward to it. I enjoy running and cycling the most. Swimming is the hardest so I just need to get that part sorted and I’ll be happy.”
In October she hopes to do the Great Scottish Run’s 10k event. She did her first 10k in one hour and 13 minutes so aims to improve on that.
“My confidence has improved. The coaches say they have seen a huge improvement since the start and that my running is faster and more fluid.”
Cheryl has met a host of friends and acquaintances through the club and loves training as part of a team. She is pictured with the club's Paratri Lead, Rose McIlwhan (right), before the Disability Tri event in May.
She offers advice for others: “I would say to anyone thinking of trying it to just go for it. Until you build your confidence do it in small stages with one bit at a time - either running, swimming or the cycling. It will all come together and the support is available to help you to get there.”
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