Northumberland triathletes help all abilities to get active

Keen triathletes, Jo Shallcross and Tracey Sample, are helping give local children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to take part in the event they love.

Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 9:55 am

Jo, from Ponteland, was first inspired to organise a triathlon tailored to the individual needs of North East children after seeing a disabled child enjoying triathlon in Hawaii.

With the help of her friend, Tracey, from Amble, The Reason To Disability Triathlon, sponsored by SOS Group, is now in its seventh year and steadily growing in popularity.

Originally designed for children with disabilities who would normally be challenged by doing the event, the annual triathlon in Newcastle is now also proving popular with adults with disabilities, too.

Jo Shallcross, Andrew Skelton, Shola Ameobi and Tracey Sample.

This year, there were 39 participants aged from eight to 29 and they each had the opportunity to take part in a traditional triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – with distances adapted according to ability and with all the support they needed.

Elijah Parsons, age 13 from Newcastle, is a pupil at Benfield School and has spina bifida. He had taken part in the triathlon previously and enjoys the competition.

His mum, Jo, said: “This event means Elijah can participate in something that’s accessible to him and where everything’s prepared for his needs.

“It’s a chance for him to feel he’s good at something because he’s at a disadvantage a lot of the time. And he can see other people with disabilities, and how they vary and change, so that exposure is really good for him.

Participants with Shola Ameobi.

“Events like this are few and far between and it’s really hard to find stuff that’s adaptive and inclusive where Elijah’s able to participate as a challenger rather than a concession and that’s really important.

"We find it really difficult to find things to keep him active and have to travel quite far to find sports clubs. There’s nothing really in the North East that encourages Elijah to swim or run or do racing or cycling, so it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to excel and do his best and really challenge himself.”

Newcastle United’s Shola Ameobi is a long-time supporter of the Reason To Disability Triathlon and was on hand to present the medals and congratulate the participants.

Kacy Wrightson from Cramlington.
Harry Purdey from Whitley Bay.