Portsmouth's Lauren Steadman wants to be an inspiration to all after Strictly Come Dancing appearances

Portsmouth athlete Lauren Steadman hopes her appearance on Strictly Come Dancing proves an inspiration to all.

Wednesday, 2nd January 2019, 1:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 11:30 am
Lauren Steadman on Strictly Come Dancing

The 26-year-old was born missing her lower right arm and became the second Paralympic athlete to appear on the prime-time Saturday evening show.

But while Jonnie Peacock's prosthetic legs were often under trousers, Steadman's arm was always visible.

She believes that helped to change perceptions as she and dance partner AJ Pritchard reached the semi-finals.

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'˜The bit I enjoyed the most was having an impact on the whole nation with AJ and inspiring so many people,' Steadman told Press Association Sport.

'˜We received so many beautiful messages from children, their parents, of disability children and able-bodied children, just all saying they believe they can do what they want.

'˜For me that was the most positive part, seeing I'm encouraging people to get out there and do something that they wouldn't have thought about doing.

'˜We wanted to show people it isn't about what you can or can't do, it's about how you attack it, it's about believing that you can do it and if you want something bad enough you can achieve it.

'˜For me, the most beautiful thing is a year ago kids used to look at me and say 'oh, Mum, Mum, she's got one arm'. After Strictly, it's no longer that, it's 'Mum, look, it's Lauren from Strictly'.

'˜Kids don't doubt what I can do. They don't see it as different, they see it as normal. Giving that perception across is encouraging for other people with limiting disabilities and showing everybody else everything is possible.'

Steadman was speaking in support of British Triathlon initiative Tri January, which encourages people to try multisport activity in the New Year.

She competed as a swimmer at London 2012, before turning to para-triathlon, claiming Paralympic silver in Rio.

She followed world and European successes in 2018 with her Strictly appearance and will tour with the dance show in the New Year while balancing training.

'˜My coach is very excited, because this is the first year I've gone into a season where I'm extra mobile and extra flexible,' she added.

Gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are the target, but Steadman has an additional goal - competing in a third sport at the Games.

She wants to combine triathlon with competing in the road race, as a support rider for Dame Sarah Storey, the 14-time Paralympic champion.

Steadman is yet to speak to British Cycling about the possibility, but the governing body is open minded, as shown with Kadeena Cox balancing athletics and track cycling to win gold in both disciplines at Rio 2016.

She added: '˜I haven't ruled out, if I get out to Lanzarote this year and get some good cycling in my legs, nothing's stopping me hopping across and giving the road race a bit of a run.

'˜If I've got the power to do it, then why not? Sarah is a phenomenal athlete. I'd be very honoured to race alongside her.'

- To take part in Tri January and receive a free welcome pack, sign up at www.trijanuary.org