Multi Paralympic medal-winning swimmer, Claire Cashmore, is the living embodiment of resilience and perseverance. Though she often jokes that she lost her left forearm in a shark attack, Claire was born with the disability – but that has not stopped her from achieving her Paralympic dreams.
We recently spoke to Claire to discover her techniques for staying calm under pressure and the importance of disability representation in sport. Read our exclusive interview with the inspirational Claire Cashmore, below:
Q: How Do You Build Mental Resilience?
“Good question – how do I build resilience? I think it’s something that I’ve learnt over time from the knockbacks. I don’t believe that you can be truly successful until you’ve experienced failure, and for me, I learned that quite quickly in my career.
“Going into the [2008 Beijing Paralympic Games] ranked #1 and not achieving that, was one of them. I learned how driven I was by that Gold medal, but I didn’t understand how to get to the Gold medal and the process that it takes. That has taught me – being right at the bottom, being so low and having your dream shattered – how to build yourself back up to being at the top again.
“It’s a skill that you will learn throughout your career, and I don’t think it’s one that anybody can teach you.”
Q: What Is the Hardest Physical Challenge You Have Ever Faced?
“I think, to be honest, it’s knowing how to push your body to that red line, through that absolute pain when your body is saying ‘no’. So, your mind saying ‘no’, but your body is actually capable of it and sometimes I have to tell myself, ‘you can do this’. It’s funny how you then sometimes get that extra push.
“I don’t know if I can tell you my hardest challenge because there have been so many!”
Q: What Is the Secret to Staying Calm Under Immense Pressure?
“Staying calm can be pretty tough, especially when you are in this really high-pressure environment. I’ve done a lot of work with my sports psychologist around meditation and learning how my breathing can calm me down. I can have all these really negative emotions going around in my head, all these really annoying voices, but it’s how you bring yourself into the present.
“So, for me, it’s literally putting my feet on the ground and feeling the ground underneath my feet and listening to the sounds around me, seeing what I can see. It just kind of brings me back, grounds me and distracts me from those negative emotions.”
Q: Why Is Representation Important in Sports?
“So, for me, representation is really important. I would love to see as many people as possible with a disability getting involved in sport across all areas, all types of sports and just giving it a go.
“I think often there’s this fear that if you’ve got a disability, you have to be a Paralympian, and that is not the case at all. You know, there’s so many health benefits and mental wellbeing benefits from getting involved in sport. Not enough brands are showing people with a disability on their social media pages, so it doesn’t feel like you can get involved because there’s nobody like you.
“One of my biggest passions is actually encouraging more companies, more brands, to put people out there with a disability and try and normalise it as much as possible!”
Q: What Has Been the Highlight of Your Career So Far?
“There have been so many highlights, but I think the one that stands out in my mind is being able to compete in [2012 London Paralympic Games], in front of a home crowd. I just feel so lucky and privileged that the home Games came around within my career.
“I just feel really lucky that I got to experience that and I’ve just got such vivid memories of walking through the tunnel as the doors open, going out into the stadium and just the roof felt like it was going to lift off.
“The noise was phenomenal – just seeing red, white and blue British flags everywhere, everybody cheering! It was just the most incredible experience ever.”
Book Claire Cashmore
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