Medal joy for Chloe MacCombe in para-triathlon

Chloe MacCombe found para-triathlon by accident and it has proved to be a happy one as the 26 year old claimed a silver medal in the women’s race at the Commonwealth Games while twin sister Judith finished fourth.

By Ciaran Donaghy
Sunday, 31st July 2022, 4:05 pm

A blistering finish in the final leg by the Claudy native saw he overtake Canada’s Jessica Tuomela, finishing in one hour 14 minutes 39 seconds.

“I don’t think it has fully sunk in yet that I was second, it is absolutely unreal,” said a delighted MacComber afterwards.

“Catherine (guide) shouted going up the last hill on the run that she could see the Canadians and see second place and that was just the final push to kick on,

Northern Ireland's Chloe Maccombe (left) and her guide Catherine Sands celebrate winning silver in the Womens Para Triathlon on day three of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“Third would have been great but second is unreal.

“I have only been in the sport a couple of years, it is unreal and it is just a real encouragement to keep on pushing and real focus on Paris 2024 and the Paralympics.

“Walking up to the podium it hit me all at once and I thought I was going to cry, but I held it in you can’t cry on camera!

“It is absolutely unreal, and I really hope it inspires other people to take up para-triathlon or even give any other kind of sport a go, it’s worth trying have a go.

MacCombe explained her route into the sport.

“We got into triathlon by accident,” she said.

“We were part of the para rowing team for Ireland but that fell through a little bit.

“We went to a Team Ireland expo event and bumped into the triathlon guys and they asked us if we could swim, cycle and run.

“We said a little bit and he said there was a training day in Belfast the following week and for us to come along, and that was pretty much it.

“Myself and Judith went together, we would have been about 23 or 24,

“It wasn’t overly difficult to change sports because we had only got into rowing at university and had only really been doing it three or four years anyway.

“So in terms of switching sport it wasn’t that difficult and in terms of the high performance end we were used to pushing ourselves hard.”

MacCombe was full of praise for her guide Catherine Sands and their success was made all the more remarkable as they have only been together a relatively short time.

“It was mid-2020 so it has been about two years,” she said. “Without a guide I can’t race so it means everything that she is here and we have spent the time together.

“We have built up that trust that we can go fast on the bike and when she says lean then I do it. She said on the bike trust me Chole and there was no doubt in my mind that I do trust her.

“I have to have so much trust in Catherine because I can’t see where I’m going in the swim, on the bike or in the run. I have a bit of vision to be able to see but I just have to trust when Catherine says right I have to lean right I have to go right and we are going the right way.

“There is so much work involved and I’m just glad we have put in the work together so I can fully trust her.”

Chole will be sharing her success with her sister.

“As the tandem twins we have to celebrate together,” she said. “I’m really proud of her race, we are proud of each other and that is what matters.”

Judith commented on her fourth place finish: “It was good. I struggled a bit in the swim, it’s always my weakest and I really need to work on it, I know that myself.

“I know that once I’m out of the swim I push hard on the bike, push hard on the run.”