Sawtry’s Lauren Steadman wins World Series triathlon event to stay on course for Tokyo Olympics
Sawtry Paralympic star Lauren Steadman waltzed to victory at the AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Para Series in Leeds to keep her Tokyo medal hopes firmly on track today (June 6).
The former Strictly Come Dancing star, 28, finished comfortably clear of the field in the PTS5 Women category in one of the final races before the Paralympics in Japan.
Steadman won silver in Rio in 2016, but took gold in the first World Triathlon Para Series event to be held in the UK ahead of compatriot Claire Cashmore, who made it a British one-two by holding off reigning Paralympic champion American Grace Norman in a sprint finish.
Steadman - who was born missing her lower right arm - said: “It actually feels amazing to win. I didn’t know going in what was going to happen because I know Claire has been training exceptionally hard, as has Grace, and when you race girls that are pretty similar - we are strong on the swim, bike, and run - it could’ve been anyone’s gold medal on the day.
“We have been pushing the boundaries of our category, but it was definitely lovely to give myself a bit of a confidence boost moving forward.
“I definitely want to go to Tokyo and deliver the best I can on the day because then I can’t be disappointed in myself. “If everything lines up right for me, I’d like to think I can bring it home.”
Steadman, who splits her time between Lanzarote and Peterborough, was cheered on by a 4,000-strong crowd that included her parents, who she had not seen in nearly six months.
“I just tried to relax and enjoy the fact that we actually had a bit of a crowd today which was really lovely and gave me loads of energy,” she explained.
“They made a massive difference, and my parents were there as well, who I haven’t seen since Christmas because of everything that has been going on.
“It was really nice to have them there as they have supported me massively.”
Portsmouth University graduate Steadman has also appeared on Channel 4 show SAS: Who Dares Wins and believes it’s vital to promote the sport and represent people with disabilities on TV.
“It has been really important to do things outside of the world of sport and have sports people from the Paralympics that represent people on mainstream TV,” she said.
“You can inspire people through sport, but I had the chance to go on TV in front of 14 million people to do something totally different to triathlon and inspire a different generation for a different reason.”
The AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Para Series Leeds is the pinnacle of triathlon competition in the UK and is proudly presented alongside Volvo Car UK