Paris Paralympics is Jakes’ aim – but Eastbourne star has work to do

Finley Jakes | Picture: Steve CoxFinley Jakes | Picture: Steve Cox
Finley Jakes | Picture: Steve Cox
Finley Jakes took up triathlon without being able to swim or ride a bike – and is now targeting the Paralympic Games.

Previously a sprinter, the 24-year-old soon found that his childhood swimming lessons were not up to scratch after making the switch to triathlon.

While it was about building technique in the pool, the Eastbourne native had to push past fear to succeed on the bike.

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“I discovered triathlon looking randomly online,” Jakes said. “I was a sprinter and post Rio-2016 I was looking at different talent identification programmes.

“I was asked to do triathlon, I couldn’t swim or bike when I started but wanted to give it a go and luckily got accepted. I started learning from scratch with swimming and biking and have gone on from there.

“I started with a lot of support from British Triathlon, who got me in contact with my local club. I started doing basic swim lessons aside people probably 10 years younger than me and putting in the hard work to try and get to where I need to.

“I learned to ride a bike and was helped a lot by my dad, who is a keen cyclist. We spent long hours learning how to stand upright on a bike, I have definitely come a long way since then.

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“Learning to ride, I was pretty scared of getting on the bike. With my impairment growing up, I just thought I wouldn’t be able to stand upright but obviously as is the case that is not the true and it has been a lot of learning to get over that fear.

“I definitely came off my bike a few more times than I would have liked but there was a lot of determination to get through that and I realised that I could do it and believe in myself a lot more.”

Jakes currently sits just outside the automatic qualification spots for Paris 2024 and is targeting a fourth podium finish this season at the World Triathlon Para Series in Swansea.

The PTS4 athlete has gone from 11th to sixth in his past two appearances at the standalone Para Series event but knows more will be needed in his home race to make it to a first Paralympic Games.

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He added: “Swansea two years ago was my first home international race, it was really good to get the buzz of the crowd, it really helped push me forward on the run and I am really looking forward to going again.

“It just gives you more of a buzz and helps you really motivate yourself and get that last extra bit out of you when know you’ve got that support out there for you.

“It is just nice to be on home soil and know you don’t have as much as travel and feel more comfortable going into the race.

“Swansea for me is very important. I am currently sitting just outside the automatic slots for the Games so Swansea can be a big points scorer.

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“I have had a good season so far, I have raced really well, so I all can ask of myself is to do the same again and do what I can.”

The world’s best paratriathletes return to Swansea on Saturday 22 June. The city will come alive with swim, bike, run ahead of the Paris Paralympic Games, with Swansea one of the final opportunities to secure crucial qualification points. Find out more at: https://www.britishtriathlon.org/events/major-events/world-triathlon-para-series-swansea

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