Five schools and over 100 pupils were invited to Penlan Community Leisure Centre to GO TRI a specially designed triathlon course, with para-athletes, sports coaches and even a Wales Women’s rugby international player in attendance.
It was the first time that the vast majority of the children had experienced the challenge of a triathlon – with GO TRI and Take Part the ethos of the Para Sport Festival, which encourages people to come and try sport for the very first time at the insport Series event on Tuesday 11 July.
Following the school visits, members of the Disability Sport Wales Performance Pathway Hub, who have a little more experience of sport, came to have, what even for many of them, was also their first taste of triathlon.
Gwyndaf Lewis, Welsh Triathlon Participation Officer, said: “It is very important to get children back out and doing sporting activities after the restrictions of group participation during Covid. Having a competitive element to a GO TRI event helps children to push their own limits and it gives them a huge confidence boost as well as being a lot of fun. This is part our legacy project that we are taking to fourteen schools over eight weeks for children to try triathlon. The hope is that many of these children will join Welsh Triathlon or a local club and grow the sport across Wales. Swansea has some fantastic sporting facilities and for many years now it has been doing a great job bringing big sporting events to the city and promoting the health and well-being of everyone.”
Mark Evans, Sport and Health Swansea, said: “This GO TRI event is the start of our triathlon season and over the summer we’ll be organising more of these events and inviting a lot of schools to come along and taste triathlon for the first time. From a participation point of view, we think that triathlon is one of the best sports because it involves swim, bike and run. It’s very inclusive and everyone can get involved. We can simulate swimming for those venues that don’t have a swimming pool or for children who can’t swim, and we have handcycles and scooters for those who can’t ride a bike – so everyone can successfully complete the course and enjoy themselves. This has been a great event and we’ll be working with Disability Sport Wales to encourage schools to come along to the Para Sport Festival on Tuesday 11 July where triathlon will be one of over twenty sports that children can try for free. From there, we can signpost people to local clubs, like Celtic Tri, who are an inclusive junior and adult club.”
Robyn Wilkins, DSW Senior Officer – Para Sport Festival and Wales Women’s rugby international player, said: “With fifty days to go until the Para Sport Festival in Swansea, which includes the World Triathlon Para Series Swansea, we wanted to celebrate the date with an insport GO TRI event, and it’s been wonderfully successful. We’ve had a lot of children trying triathlon for the very first time, and they’ve all enjoyed themselves. The swim, bike and run were in five-minute sessions, so nobody fell too far behind which kept it fun for everyone, regardless of their ability or how fast or slow they are. It’s all about enjoying yourself.
“Events like today are a great opportunity for us to demonstrate how inclusive sport can be, including the value of working in partnership to provide high quality inclusive opportunities for everyone. Today’s event wouldn’t have been possible without the collaborative approach and support from Welsh Triathlon, Swansea Council, Disability Sport Wales and Bikeability.
“We’ll have bikes and a run as a duathlon, alongside over twenty other sports, at the Para Sport Festival in July and once again it will be all about encouraging people of all ages and all abilities to come and have a go. The insport Series event will take place on the Tuesday [11 July], ahead of the World Triathlon Para Series race on the Saturday [15 July]. The World Triathlon Para Series will also have a blue carpet experience event on the Friday [14 July] where people can go on the turbo trainer, put their feet in the water as a dash and finish on the blue carpet where the World Triathlon Para-athletes will cross the finish line the following day. It’s a great opportunity for schools to become involved and for youngsters to experience something very special at a world class venue. Hopefully they’ll return to cheer on the World Triathlon Para-athletes the day after as well.”
One of the Performance Pathway Hub athletes who came to the GO TRI event in Swansea was nine-year-old Sienna Allen-Chaplin – who has benefited greatly from participating in sport and who is an incredible inspiration to others.
Jo Allen-Chaplin, Sienna’s mother, said: “Sienna started strength and conditioning when she was four and a half to build her stamina and core strength which has had an amazing effect on her mobility, and because of this she has been able to participate in sport. Currently, Sienna does gymnastics, swimming and athletics weekly, and climbing and skiing monthly. She recently did an aquathon, so we’re looking into triathlon now because she already participates in a lot of the disciplines and we think it will be good for her to do.
“Sienna is really active and just loves sport. We’ve set up a social media page to hopefully inspire other parents, because being physically active makes such a difference and she’s met some amazing people through it.
“It’s amazing to see Sienna’s progress. When she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as parents we didn’t know what the outlook would be – but we wanted to show her that anything is possible. Yes, we have this diagnosis, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. You’re capable of doing everything your peers can do and the same things that her brother Trystan can do, so we’ve always given her all the opportunities that we would give to her brother with regards to participating in sports and activities.
“An event like the Para Sport Festival is a great opportunity to see all the different athletes – whether they were born with a disability, or it happened later in life through illness or an accident. It just shows what is possible and how sport brings people together.
“The Para Sport Festival is good for children to come and have a go at sport, to be inspired by the para-athletes who will be there and to see what you can go on to do. It’s even better that the event is in our hometown of Swansea!”
Registration is open for individuals or schools to confirm their free space at the insport Series event now. This is an opportunity for everyone to experience the range of inclusive and disability specific opportunities available in Swansea. Further information and the opportunity to sign up is available through parasportfestival.co.uk
A full list of Para Sport Festival events, starting with the Welsh Para Golf Open on the 10 July, including opportunities to register to spectate and/or volunteer for all the events is also available through parasportfestival.co.uk.
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