After being denied sports in primary school, visually impaired Laura Turner, 32, was a dressage rider before becoming a cyclist.
‘As a youngster, I was never allowed to do PE or sportsat school because I was always seen as a health andsafety hazard. I was born with sight loss conditionsknown as Coloboma, Microphthalmia and Nystagmuswhich have left me with limited vision. It wasn’tuntil I went to a secondary school that was supportive of visuallyimpaired people that I was introduced to the world of sport. I hada go at everything and took to athletics and goalball. I ended uprepresenting Great Britain in both events at youth level, which tookme to America and Europe. When I left school and started work,I bought my first horse and got into dressage. I competedregionally and nationally for 14 years. After losing my horseChloe to ill health in January 2014, I didn’t know what to do.Having sports taken away from me again was a massiveblow – not just for me but for my family as well.
I May Have Poor Sight But I Can Still Compete as a Cyclist Photo Gallery
A NEW CHALLENGE
‘Last year, I was browsing the British Blind Sport websiteand noticed that British Cycling was looking for people tosee if they had a talent and would like to take up cycling.So I started cycling and went back to the gym. In January,I competed in the British National Track Championships,and have also just done my first closed-circuit race (bothPara events). I love the speed of the track; and the fresh airin road cycling, which is more about endurance. I ride a tandemwith my ‘pilot’, who has the responsibility of steering the bike,changing gears, braking, looking out for other cyclists andadvising on what’s ahead – it’s a team effort and requires goodcommunication skills.‘Moving forward, I want to gain more experience competing inmore races next year. For me, fitness and sport is sociable and givesme loads of confidence. Getting out and about and doing sportenables you to meet people – and they get to learn how to interactwith somebody who’s disabled, so it works both ways. I couldn’t doit without Hester, my guide dog, though, whom I’ve had for four yearsShe comes everywhere with me, getting me to the gym to train everyday – without her I’d be reliant on family and friends for this.’
‘Fitness relieves stress. I can do a full day at work [Laura’s a leaddisability ambassador at Remploy; remploy.co.uk] and come homeknowing I can go to the gym or do some cycling. I might feel tiredat first, but I can push through it so it will clear my head and I’ll feelbetter in myself. It also gives me a goal – I know I’m going to the gymor for a cycle for a purpose. It’s not about being competitive all the time.A lot of people think that, because I’m into sports, my goal should beto stand on the next Paralympic podium. But it’s not just about winninga medal; it’s also about enjoying what you’re doing. That’s what sport’sall about. With Hester by my side, I can train like anyone else for an event,and once I’m on the bike I can forget I’m disabled. I have to maintain thesame level of fitness as anybody else, and if I’m competing, I have to dothe same exercise regimes and training routines.’
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