Ten-year-old Chloe Couture has been attracting attention

and melting hearts at triathlons all over the country since she started competing with her dad last summer


TEPHAN AND DI adopted Chloe six years ago. She had cerebral palsy and sight problems and as a result, has no peripheral vision and experiences a delay in processing vision in her line of sight. “Doctors warned she would never sit up, speak, or feed herself. She didn’t speak, didn’t move, but now look at her, she’s a natural” says Stephan. “There’s a saying ‘disabled child, disabled family,” says Di. “Yes, looking after a disabled child is exhausting – but we were determined that wouldn’t be us.”

As a teenager, Stephan had been a keen cyclist – competing in time trials and road races. “I always loved cycling but it fell by the wayside over the years,” he says. “But I’ve always been fit and active – swimming for fun and climbing peaks like Snowdon and Mont Blanc. We bought a child carrier big enough for Chloe, and climbed Snowdon with her on my back, twice.”

On a family day out at a National Trust property, Stephan broke into a run pushing her buggy downhill. “She laughed as we picked up speed. I realised that being outdoors just sparked something within her, and this was something we could do together.”

Stephan tracked down an all-terrain buggy that could manage cross-country routes. He started off with brisk walking, then introduced a mixture of walking and running between lamp-posts, gradually building up distances; their first race was a 5k Santa run in Stratford in 2011.

Meanwhile, Chloe was developing in leaps and bounds. One afternoon, the family were at a garden centre coffee shop when Chloe started to use the metal bars around the service island to pull herself along. As she pulled, the buggy wheels turned a fraction. Sensing the movement, she pulled again. While her parents watched in astonishment, Chloe began to inch her way around the island. The proud parents invested in a wheelchair and painstakingly taught her to turn the wheels herself. At the same time Stephan introduced cycling to their regime. “By removing the front wheel of the buggy, I could attach it to my bike and take her out cycling. I fashioned little wedges and cushions to make her


secure and she loved it.” Just one more discipline and they’d be able to do a triathlon. Chloe couldn’t swim, but what was to stop Stephan towing her in a kayak? So last summer, a nervous Di watched as Chloe’s kayak was lowered into nearby Cliff Lakes, Warwickshire – an open water swim venue. Chloe, wearing a wetsuit and lifejacket, simply exclaimed “ooooh,” and laughed joyfully.

Their first triathlon was a Para Tri event at Dorney Lake, Eton. “It was brilliant – Chloe loved the whole race atmosphere and the cheers,” says Stephan. “In fact, we loved it so much we did three races in one day. As we crossed the line, Chloe had her arms out triumphantly. It gave us the confidence to carry on taking part.”

Within weeks they had completed a triathlon in Derby and the Brownlee triathlon at Harewood House in Leeds. Dad and daughter now train

every day, and the family has more races lined up this year.

“Our next race is in a lake shallow enough for me to walk along, supporting her for the 50 metre swim while she kicks her legs. Then we’ll do the 2.5km bike and 750m run together. Our earliest races were just 5k on the bike, but we’re aiming for a half Ironman distance next.” The parents are also waiting for the delivery of a bespoke tricycle for Chloe – which supports her while allowing her to pedal. “The salesman insisted she wouldn’t be able to manage it, but I sat her on it and off she went,” he says proudly. “The tricycle will really build up her leg strength,” adds Di. “In time, we would love her to walk and we’re going to give her every opportunity”. Stephan is convinced she has it in her to one day do triathlon by herself.

Stephan is passionate about getting more families involved and has set up The LadyBugs Trust ( – with the motto “Life’s too short not to”. “It’s hard work and takes a lot of organisation to get a disabled person ready for the event. Our transition times are shocking,” he laughs, “but why shouldn’t they have that thrill? Even when a person can’t communicate, you can just see something in their eyes – that spark.”

Ability Needs Magazine

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60