Cambs Paralympian Clare Cunningham gets 2015 off to winning start
- Credit: Archant
Globetrotting Paralympic star Clare Cunningham has captured her first success of 2015.
Cunningham, who moved to Papworth Everard three years ago, took victory at the opening round of the ITU World Paratriathlon Event Series in South Africa.
She won by nine minutes from closest challenger Gwladys Lemoussu of France in the Women’s PT4 category (for those with minimal limb impairment – in her case being born without a left forearm).
And it may also have been a very helpful outing for her long-term target of competing in the inaugural triathlon at the Paralympic Games in Rio next year.
Cunningham ,pictured, is no stranger to the Paralympic Games after striking gold and collecting four silver swimming medals in Barcelona in 1992 at the age of 15.
She also competed in the pool in Atlanta four years later befor retiring.
Cunningham, 37, took up paratriathlon in 2009 and made an instant impact by becoming World, European and British champion in a memorable debut year.
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She has continued to excel in the years since, winning a medal at every World Championship event she has contested.
Cunningham said: “I was very pleased to take the win in my category especially as I would not usually race so early in the year.
“The triathlon season is typically May to September, but the opportunity arose and the conditions in South Africa were potentially similar to what we may face in Rio – warm, windy and with a choppy sea swim.
“More importantly there were some definite signs of improvement and lots I can build upon before my next race in May.
“My main goals for this year are to finish on the podium at the European and World Championships, but the long-term target is Rio.”
Cunningham will return to action in the rather cooler climes of Llanelli, Wales, in an event which could provide selection for the European and World Championships later in the year.
They are being staged in Geneva, Switzerland, in July and Chicago, USA, in September, respectively.
Cunningham is currently part of the UK Sport National Lottery funded Paratriathlon World Class Performance Squad in the lead up to Ri