Hamilton-based senior administrator Shannon Cleave is gearing up for her first ever para-triathlon this weekend, the 2017/2018 Suzuki Para-Triathlon National Championships in Mt Maunganui.

Both an employee and member of the Blind Foundation, last year she took part in the Blind Foundation’s inaugural 7 Day Challenge. A call for applications for the event in July came on the same day she had decided with her personal trainer Ant, whom she had been working with since April, that she needed a goal to work towards.

Completing the 7 Day Challenge was really just the beginning. Over the past 18 months she has lost an incredible 60kg, taken part in multiple running events and trained to compete in this weekend’s para-triathlon – with more on the horizon.

She says after the 7 Day Challenge she needed a new goal. While there were plenty of running events to work towards, Shannon didn’t find running interesting enough on its own, and so she began researching.

“I was watching the Paralympics, and I saw a video of the Para-triathlon and thought it looked epic. It’s a relatively new sport to the Paralympics so I thought it would be cool to do it as something that’s difficult but achievable.”

By taking on a sport new to the Paralympics, Shannon hopes to motivate a younger generation of people to see what’s possible and give it a go themselves.

She has some advice for others who are thinking about setting their own goals: “Seek out and surround yourself with people who are positive and optimistic, and willing to give anything a go.

“In a practical sense, I recommend contacting Achilles International New Zealand – an organisation that helps people with disabilities with the opportunity to participate in running events. I also suggest getting involved with local clubs – they are usually helpful and willing, and interested to have you involved. The worst they can do is say no!”

Reflecting on where she is today, she shares: “One of the biggest life changes that I’ve experienced is when I realised that life is a series of choices, and if you make the best choice you can at any given time, you’ve done the best you can. And by doing that on a regular basis you’ll get as far as you can go – and you never know what you can achieve.”

“Shannon is a person with significant potential, and we’ve been fortunate to be one component of her unlocking that potential through the 7 Day Challenge. It might sound cliché but she is inspirational, because it is her choices and no-one else’s that have led her to lead her life without limits. She’s done all of this herself.”

 Watch Shannon on TV3’s The Cafe

While Shannon is unsure about being named “inspirational”, others are certain and this week she appeared on TV3’s The Café as part of their “inspirational stories” series. Watch it here.

Shannon Cleave joins us for Inspirational Stories

Shannon will be accompanied by colleague Deb Nash, who will be her guide at this weekend’s event. Please join us in wishing Shannon good luck!