Superhero Tri – success all round

The UK disability sporting event took place on Saturday – we went along to find out more and caught up with participants Ryan and Mark.

“There’s a great atmosphere. People were cheering us all the way round and I was pedalling really hard. I’m hoping to do it again next year”. Just minutes after finishing his stage in 2018’s Superhero Tri event, Ryan Smith is already talking about 2019. There’s little wonder why. The atmosphere is buzzing and there are lots of happy faces. Superhero Tri appears to have succeeded in its aim to offer a mass-participation event where people with all kinds of disabilities can come together and feel ‘in the majority rather than the minority’.

The challenge

The event, held at Windsor’s Dorney Lake and founded by Paralympian Sophia Warner, consists of three stages – swimming, cycling and running. These are the three most popular disability sports. Different distances are on offer and one person can do the whole course alone, join with friends/family in a relay, or a Sidekick can accompany the Superhero around the course. The key criteria is that one person on each team has a disability.

Taking part in the event

Ryan Smith was one member of The Children’s Trust’s team with his dad, Mark, and The Children’s Trust CEO Dalton Leong and Lisa. Ryan suffered a brain injury five years ago, at the age of 16, when he was hit by a van while cycling. Once he’d left hospital Ryan was at The Children’s Trust for rehabilitation for nine months and the family regularly helps the charity raise awareness of brain injury. For the challenge, dad Mark takes on the swim, the father and son team pedal together, while Dalton and Lisa run the final stretch. Ryan explains he’s been cycling with his dad every week on the pavements around home and proudly shows his side-by-side tandem bike. “We go out cycling at every opportunity we can,” says dad Mark. “We’ve had the bike for 3-4 years and it’s our second year here. Coming to this event is so inspiring. “There are so many different disabilities but this event goes to show whatever obstacles are put in front of people they can overcome it. It’s a great experience.”

A full day out

Throughout the day, a phenomenal 2,500 adults and children take part in the event. This includes a Celebrity Superhero Tri with team captains including athletes David Weir and Jonnie Peacock, comedian Adam Hills and BBC journalist Frank Gardner. Broadcaster Clare Balding is also at the event, working with presenter JJ Chalmers on a Channel 4 programme that will cover Superhero Tri – it will air on 1 September at 11.30am. The grounds of Dorney Lake are full of charities and organisations sharing information on their services and equipment that can help people get into sport or find the support they need.
Activities on offer
Mission Motorsport activities on offer
And in the breaks from cheering or participating, free activities include wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, driving a dual control Lightning McQueen MX5 (anyone from age three years old!), art, remote control Lego cars, a climbing wall, the list goes on. We catch up with The Children’s Trust CEO Dalton Leong to get his take on the event. “It really is a unique opportunity. People of all abilities are pushing themselves to their limits showing resilience, self-esteem, self-confidence. It‘s a privilege to be here.” And as the day closes a tweet from Clare Balding says it all: “The Superhero Tri was one of the best events I’ve ever been to.” "It was all about the joy of sport, the benefit of teamwork and the value of taking on a challenge. Huge high five to Sophia Warner for making it happen when others said it couldn’t.” Find out more about the Superhero Tri Series at Ryan’s story and an update from 2017. Along with supporting The Children’s Trust, Ryan’s family run The Ryan Smith Foundation promoting safer cycling. Superhero Tri founder Sophia Warner is also an ambassador of The Children’s Trust.    
Share page
Print page
Follow us