On Sunday, August 8, Jade Kingdom will take her place on the start line of the London Triathlon.
The 34-year-old from Barnstaple will join thousands of other athletes as their equal, yet her mere presence at the event will already be an incredible achievement.
Jade has Down Syndrome, which means she has problems with weight, balance and coordination, to name but a few of the challenges she faces. But through sheer hard work over a number of months, she has trained hard to be in a position to conquer a full triathlon.
â€œI have to swim 750m, do a 20km bike ride, then run 5km. My favourite is the swimming because Iâ€™m really good at it!â€ said Jade. I wanted to do a triathlon because Tom [her brother-in-law] did one, and I also wanted to help people so Iâ€™m getting sponsored and raising money too.â€
Jade is raising funds for North Devon Hospice, proudly wearing the charityâ€™s blue running top each time she goes out to train. So far, she has raised more than Â£6,000. â€œIt helps my training when people donate. Iâ€™m very excited that Iâ€™ve raised lots of money and I want to raise more!â€
Tom Mahoney, Jadeâ€™s brother-in-law, has now become her triathlon coach, helping her get fit enough to complete the course in the capital.
â€œIn all the races Iâ€™ve done over the last seven years or so, I canâ€™t ever recall seeing somebody with Down Syndrome taking part.â€ He said.
â€œFrom personal experience I know how hard these events are, I know the training required and for someone with Down Syndrome to do it is ten times harder. But after coming to one of my races, Jade said she wanted to do a triathlon herself. I believe that anyone can do anything so I thought, â€˜why shouldnâ€™t she?â€™â€
Despite this initial optimism, Tom admits that it hasnâ€™t all been plain sailing.
â€œTraining has been a bumpy road. There have been slips while running and crashes on the bike, but Iâ€™m blown away by her progress.
â€œTo see someone with a disability getting stuck in like she does, itâ€™s inspiring.â€ said Tom. â€œJade never moans. The training is really hard for her. I can see her feet are always bashed up with lots of blisters and I know the running is hard on her cardio-system, but sheâ€™s got such a great attitude to training. Â
â€œShe always wants to do people proud and of course she wants to raise money for the hospice, which is a big part of her commitment.â€
Judy Kingdom, Jadeâ€™s mum and cycling partner, said that raising money has certainly motivated her along the way.
â€œWeâ€™ve known lots of people who have been touched by the hospice, and Jade wanted to do something to help people. She loves seeing the donations go up, and up, and up!â€ said Judy.
â€œI was a bit apprehensive and didnâ€™t think that she would be able to sustain that level of effort for a full-length triathlon, but sheâ€™s blown us all away.â€
Training has been intense and has carried on in all weathers over the last year.
â€œI do training six times a week,â€ said Jade. â€œWednesday nights I do swimming, Tuesday and Thursday I go running with Lisa [Jadeâ€™s aunt] and I do bike rides with my mum too. The hardest weather for me is when itâ€™s hot and sunny, but I did training in the snow and hail too!â€
Jadeâ€™s determination and commitment to training has seen her gain a huge amount of support for her endeavours.
A local cycle shop specially adapted her bike to help her feel more balanced without losing speed, while she trains for her swim with the North Devon Triathlon Club, where she is treated as just another member of the team.
She also documents her training on Instagram, where her @triathlonjade account has gained a substantial audience with over 5,000 followers and rising.
â€œShe has such a great community on Instagram. People are always so positive and they always comment to say what an inspiration she is,â€ said Tom.
â€œThe messages drive Jade to train even harder. Even in the local area people shout, wave and toot their horns when sheâ€™s out training. They know who Jade is, they know what sheâ€™s doing and what sheâ€™s raising money for, which is brilliant because everyone seems to be behind her.â€
However, everyone in Jadeâ€™s camp knows that training will be very different to the actual triathlon, Tom said: â€œShe will be undertaking over three hours of racing, which for any fit and able person would be a huge ask. For Jade it is going to be a lot harder.
â€œThe enormity has dawned on me, but I know sheâ€™s going to do it. We have a plan in place and a lot of work has gone in to getting her in the best shape possible so she can smash it on the day.â€
For everyone who knows Jade, there is a great deal of pride in what she has already achieved, before even reaching the start line.
â€œIâ€™m so proud of her,â€ said mum Judy. â€œOn the day Iâ€™m going to feel nervous, apprehensive, but also excited. Jade really shines in these situations, and she will be the star of the show, at least in her mind! It will certainly be very emotional at the end.â€
Tom, who will be racing alongside Jade to provide assistance along the course, said that her journey is an inspiration to others.
â€œCompleting the course is going to be an amazing feat for Jade, but also for anyone with a disability, who can see what Jade has done and take some hope out of it they too can achieve anything with the right support. Outside of being a triathlete sheâ€™s funny, very caring and sheâ€™s just a great person,â€ said Tom.
â€œEverything is done with a smile on her face, no matter how hard sheâ€™s training and how much sheâ€™s hurting. Thatâ€™s just Jadeâ€™s personality. When she commits to something she gives it 110%.â€
Itâ€™s safe to say that everyone who knows Jade will also be supporting her 110% on the big day.
To sponsor Jade, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/jade-kingdom
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