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‘Island should host para-triathlons’

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IF THERE was a paralympic medal for positivity, inspiration, and promoting sport for people with disabilities then Guernsey woman Sophie Veron would surely be top of the podium.

Sophie Veron is taking part in a superhero-themed para-triathlon in Windsor as banana woman this weekend and wants to bring para-triathlons to the island. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 25510814)

Miss Veron, who was diagnosed with a neurological condition called hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, wants to bring para-triathlons to the island in order to encourage sport for all.

Para-triathlons have become a passion for the veterinary nurse and this weekend she is taking part in a superhero-themed para-triathlon in Windsor as banana woman.

It will involve swimming 750m, cycling 20km on her trike, and walking 5km.

‘It is a big challenge, so I’ve been doing lots of training and building things up slowly over time.

‘I’ve been doing a lot of sea swimming, the cycling bit I’m not too worried about because I’ve been practising up and down the coast, and I do a lot of walking anyway but I’ve been practising on hills.’

The obvious question for the triathlon fan is why not just take part in an able-bodied triathlon, however there are often barriers such as timing, the transitions, and equipment restrictions.

‘If I did a normal one, because I’m a slow swimmer they’d all be done and I’d only be a third of the way through it, and also I ride a trike which is a lot heavier and slower than a normal bike so my cycling is slow, and I can’t run but I really like walking.’

The main focus of para-triathlons is on fun, taking part and socialising, and no one has to be an elite para-athlete, the same way that able-bodied athletes do not need to be as good as Mo Farah or Serena Williams.

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‘It really helps me to keep moving and stay fit, and I always feel better when I have a goal, something to work towards, so if we could start doing para-triathlons in Guernsey I could work at beating my personal best –it’s not a world record but it’s my personal best.’

The 27-year-old had a device called a ‘shunt’ embedded in her head to allow excess fluid caused by hydrocephalus to drain from her brain into her abdomen and she still experiences some balance issues.

She prefers to call people with her condition ‘hydro warriors’ because it creates a better impression and is more empowering than ‘person with a disability’ or ‘hydrocephalus sufferer’.

Life is viewed through a prism of achievement, but with a slightly different route, and she is so enthused by para-triathlons that she is now trying to drum up support for Guernsey to host the mass participation events which would embrace all levels of disability and fitness.

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‘Guernsey would be a perfect location because we have the sea for open water swimming, and there’s quite a few flat areas for cycling and walking, and it would be such a lovely thing to bring to the island.’

n Shine, a charity that helps people with hydrocephalus and spina bifida, has supported Miss Veron in finding her place in the community so she is taking part in this weekend’s event in order to raise money for it.

Go to www.justgiving.com and search for hydrocephaluswarrior if you would like to donate.

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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