If there’s one woman who fits the brief of the ‘This girl can’ campaign that has recently taken the UK by storm, it’s Shanaze Reade. A force to be reckoned with, her numerous cycling medals for BMX racing speak for themselves. Winning gold at the World BMX Championships in 2006, 2007, 2008 and racing alongside Victoria Pendelton in the Team Sprint at the World Track Championships, Reade has been there, done that and stood as a winner up on the podium. After a few years in the US focusing on her BMX training, Reade has recently re-joined the GB track sprint team, with her sights set on Rio in 2016. Keen to find out more about her impressive career, I was thrilled when Reade agreed to take a break from a hectic training schedule and talk to Hotcourses as a sports expert. If you’ve ever dreamt of winning gold, this girl proves with hard work, passion and a few injuries along the way, you can.
So let’s take a moment to go back to the beginning, how did you get into BMX racing?
I’ve always had a real passion for a sport and a big competitive streak. Throughout my early school life I enjoyed track and field and had success at events like the 100-metre sprint. I was introduced to BMX at the age of ten by my cousins, who started cycling to the local track. I hired a bike for £1, gave it a go and instantly fell in love with it.
That’s a great story! What happened next?
It was really important for me at this stage to have a mentor and I had this in the shape of a man called Bob Field, a local hero that almost single-handedly ran competitions for kids in the region and offered them advice. He has since passed away, but his inspiration will never leave me and I owe him so much. Then it was my own determination that took over, in terms of training whenever I could and raising the money to compete. It was never easy, but following your dreams never is. It’s about reacting in the same manner to both good and bad times and constantly learning. Through dedication and determination, anything is possible.
Brilliant answer, so what is it that motivates you to get back on the bike after an injury or defeat?
The realisation of how lucky I am to be blessed with a talent that gives me the opportunity to do the thing I love for a living. I believe the minute an athlete refuses to realise this, he or she need to readdress their outlook. Having this opportunity gives me a personal duty to do the very best I can to not only reach personal goals, but also to bring smiles to the faces of supporters and hopefully inspire them to take up sport.
How did it feel to win your first title in the world track cycling championships with Victoria Pendleton?
It felt really fantastic! I hadn’t done much training on the track at the time and only had a little race experience, however with people like Vicky [Pendleton] and Sir Chris [Hoy] involved in British cycling, I am very lucky to have the very best to learn from.
A big part of every professional athlete’s job is competing, how do you recover emotionally and physically when things don’t go to plan?
It’s about first having the perspective to place it in context and second deciding how you are going to react to it. BMX is a high-risk discipline and falls are unfortunately part of it. After the initial disappointment of making a mistake, I just try and think I’ve done my best but it just wasn’t my day. I honestly believe that it is experiences like this that shape a winning desire and make you stronger.
You must have quite a demanding schedule, what do you do to take time out and relax?
As my mind is constantly on training it’s very difficult to switch off. It’s my life, not just a job. I unwind by seeing friends and family; I have a little brother who is getting into racing BMX. I have bought a house, s o DIY and redecorating takes up a lot of my time. I also love watching soaps, so that’s definitely something that takes my mind off training.
Finally then, do you have any advice for aspiring sportsmen and women who might be reading this?
You need determination and focus. It’s never easy and you may not reach the top but having the chance is enough to follow your dream. Putting 110% into training or competing is something that you will never regret, no matter where it takes you. Sport is so much more than achievement at the highest level.
If you have the urge to dig out those trainers and get training, take a look at the sports courses listed on Hotcourses and thank us later.