After suffering an accident which left her with a limb impairment, Went became a classified PTS5 paratriathlete in 2021, quickly becoming PTS5 Super Series champion.
Based near Chelmsford in Essex, Cheryl Went discovered triathlon a little later than some through her husband, who is a keen triathlete himself.
Fresh from completing her first full year of paratriathlon racing and having bagged back-to-back British paraduathlon titles, Went is gearing up to defend her Super Series crown this coming season.
“I don’t come from a triathlon background at all. Two years after I had my accident in 2011, which left me with an ankle impairment, my physio mentioned building some muscle back up and suggested cycling. I used to enjoy doing a bit of running, but was told that I’d never be able to run again. I’m quite stubborn and thought - I’ll find a way.
“Then, a friend of ours mentioned to my husband about how he should try a triathlon. He started doing races and said I should give it a go. I thought, ‘no don’t be silly, I couldn’t do that.’ But I got in the pool. Then, I entered a local sprint triathlon and fell into it that way.”
Went explained how she became a classified PTS5 paratriathlete over lockdown, which turned out to be a relatively simple process, she explained: “I never thought I’d be accepted into the paratriathlon side of things, but I went along to the classification and got accepted. That was in lockdown. Then, I did one triathlon at the end of 2021 and really enjoyed it. Last year was my first full year of doing paratriathlon.”
Went fits her training alongside helping out with the family business, raising her two daughters, and taking care of a veritable home farm of five dogs, three cats and two horses.
Great Britain have an exceptionally strong paratriathlon team, with the PTS5 class seeing lots of success on the podium in recent years. No wonder, then, that Went also takes inspiration from her fellow athletes: “To be perfectly honest, it was when I saw George Peasgood racing, who had a similar impairment, that gave me the push to give it a go.”
Though Went isn’t on the talent pathway herself, she has nothing but good things to say about the system, which was put into place to support and streamline up-and-coming athletes into the world of triathlon. “Obviously, I’m not on the talent pathway which is fantastic for the young athletes getting into it. In the way of supportiveness, they’re really lovely.”
What Went is involved in though, is the British Triathlon Paratri Super Series, which she won during her first full year of racing last year. Went said: “I just think it’s lovely. Everybody’s super friendly, it’s competitive. It’s just nice to have things to work towards as well. It just gives you a focus.”
That wasn’t her only accomplishment last year though, as Went jumped from sprint to full IRONMAN athlete alongside her husband at the long-awaited IRONMAN Copenhagen.
“I never thought I’d be able to do that. It was my second IRONMAN, I did one in 2019 and was meant to do Copenhagen before lockdown, so it got pushed back and I really didn’t think I’d be able to do it because the running side of things has been quite crippling.
“I can’t do long-distance running anymore though because it takes too much of a toll. I’m just focussing now on the super series races. I also got classified last year to do para-cycling and this is my first year attempting to do that alongside tri. It’s completely different to triathlon though.”
When asked whether anything had surprised her about coming into paratriathlon, Went shared: “It’s a lot harder than just doing one sport!”, she laughed. “You might not be brilliant at all three, that’s what I found really hard. I swam as a child, but competitively swimming is really challenging. I just think that everybody should give it a go, it’s really addictive and enjoyable.”
From para- cyclist, duathlete, triathlete, and IRONMAN, it doesn’t look like there’s much that Went can’t conquer. Looking to the season ahead, Went aims to continue to push the envelope in discovering what she’s capable of.
“I’m sticking to the Super Series in both triathlon and cycling, no long-distance things for me. I’m quite competitive with myself, so I just want to get better and improve.
“It’s a personal journey just to see how far I can push my body to get better. I’m hoping that I can come away this year knowing I’ve given it 100%. There’s some tough competition in paratriathlon at the moment within PTS5, so it makes me work hard to try and be competitive.”
You can view the standings heading into Llanelli for the Paratri, Senior, Youth and Junior Super Series' here.