A three-time world champion and seven-time European champion, although still in her twenties, Lauren Steadman has achieved much in the world of paratri. Her crowning glory, though, came in Tokyo last summer when she added Paralympic gold to that sizeable medal collection.
Who is Lauren Steadman?
Put simply, Lauren Steadman is simply the most decorated paratriathlete in history. Like her great ‘frenemy’ Claire Cashmore, she is an alumni of Kelly College, that sporting powerhouse in Devon, who initially competed exclusively in swimming before taking up the multisport baton.
Born without a right forearm, Steadman made an instant mark on her new sport; within a year of heading away from the pool, she was already a paratri European champion, a title she has now won seven times.
There have also been three world titles during that time, the latest being won on the Gold Coast in 2018. But her most recent triumph is probably the one she holds most dear – winning Paralympic gold in Tokyo in August 2021, a particular sweet moment after a mistake in the race at Rio 2016 cost her a likely gold medal. Those demons have been exorcised.
A household name thanks to her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing and Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, this psychology graduate (who also holds a Masters in business and management) is the highest-profile ambassador for paratri – and one whose trophy cabinet is second to none.
How old is Lauren Steadman?
Lauren Steadman was born on 18 December 1992, making her 29 years old.
Lauren Steadman’s career highlights
August 2011: Runner-up at the worlds suggests new career path
At just 18, Steadman more than hints at a possible future in triathlon when she takes silver in the TRI-4 category at the ITU world championships in London, losing to fellow Brit Faye Mcclelland. For now, though, there’s the small matter of appearing in the pool in Steadman’s second Paralympic Games the following year, also in the capital.
June 2013: Steadman becomes the paratri queen of Europe
Now strictly a paratriathlete, Steadman takes the first of many European titles when she wins the TRI-4 category in Alanya in Turkey. Twelve months later, she wins her second European title, this time in the PT4 category in Kitzbühel.
August 2014: Steadman sits on top of the world
To go alongside the European title she won two months earlier, Steadman is victorious in the world championships in Edmonton. It’s a British-only podium, with Mcclelland taking silver and Clare Cunningham the bronze.
September 2015: A second world title is earned in the Windy City
Steadman retains her world champion status with victory on the streets of Chicago.
September 2016: A Paralympic runners-up spot is no silver lining
Despite failing to finish in the world championships two months earlier, Steadman – by now a four-time European champion – goes into the Rio Paralympics as favourite for the women’s PT4 gold. But a mistake on the swim leg hands the victory to the American Grace Norman, with Steadman “devastated” by only bagging silver. She will lose to Norman again in the world championships the following year.
July 2018: Sixth successive European crown
European championship gold comes Steadman’s way for the sixth consecutive time with victory in the PTS5 category in Tartu in Estonia. Here she holds off the challenge of fellow Brit Claire Cashmore, an old friend from schooldays who will be a huge rival over the next few seasons.
September 2018: A hat-trick of world crowns
Steadman secures her third world championship with a victory on Australia’s Gold Coast, once again holding off the challenge of silver medallist Cashmore.
September 2019: A magnificent seven
Valencia is the crucible for Steadman’s seventh – and most recent – European title, making her undeniably the most successful female paratriathlete in history. But one title still eludes her…
August 2021: Five years on, Paralympic gold is finally hers
This is the one that counts. After the chronic disappointment of Rio five years earlier, redemption for Steadman comes with a gold-medal performance at the Tokyo Paralympics, finishing ahead of her two great rivals, Norman and Cashmore.
Lauren Steadman quotes
On winning silver at the 2016 Paralympics, having gone into the race as favourite: “I was devastated after Rio. I was really destroyed. I didn’t go anywhere near my bike, my shoes or my swimsuit for seven months.”
On becoming Paralympic champion at in Tokyo in 2021: “I knew the pressure was there, but because Rio was a terrible experience, I was determined to just enjoy this, regardless of whether I got a medal or not.”
On her friendly rivalry with Claire Cashmore: “Claire became kind of like the big sister when I was at boarding school. Outside of racing, we’re friends. We do a lot together. But as soon as the gun goes, we’ve got to race, we’ve got to put our racer hats on and deliver what we need to do for ourselves.”
What’s next for Lauren Steadman?
Having been of a tender age when she started collecting paratri titles for fun, Steadman will still only be 31 by the time the next Paralympic Games, in Paris in 2024, come around. A successful defence of her Paralympic crown has to be her ambition in the middle distance. Before that, another world title to add to the three already won is an obvious priority, regaining it from the grasp of her pal Claire Cashmore.
Top image: Alex Pantling/Getty Images