Natural talent does not even begin to describe teenager Lauren Bate-Lowe’s rapid rise from casual cyclist to elite racer.
Having taken up cycling last year and after just nine months’ experience on the track, the 14-year-old has earned a place in the British Cycling Olympic Talent Programme to train in Manchester.
She managed to finish fifth in the Under-16 National Championships Match Sprint – despite being a tender 13 at the time – and is now gearing up for another big year.
London 2012 served as Lauren’s inspiration and the Tower College student is set on breaking down more barriers as she takes small steps towards her own Olympic dreams.
“It has been a good start to the year,” said the Sport City Velo cyclist.
“I have only been cycling for just over a year and it has been a really quick progress and everything is still all new.
“My next big target is the nationals in August and hopefully I am aiming for silver in the sprint and aiming for a new personal best,” she said. “I am aiming for 12.3 or better if I can.
My highlight was my first nationals, which was last year, I was 13 at the time and I was racing against 16-year-olds and I got fifth in the sprint.
“I was just watching it on TV on the Olympics and I got into it that way.”
Lauren has received another boost as a member of the SSE Next Gen programme, which provides workshops, mentoring and financial backing for some of Ireland and the UK’s brightest sporting prospects.
She rubbed shoulders with six-time Olympic gold track cycling medallist Sir Chris Hoy at a get-together earlier this month – and has just as much ambition to reach the pinnacle herself.
“It is great to have the support and the award can help me buy equipment and help out with travel and just help me complete everything I need to do each week,” she added.
“It is nice to be recognised too and to know that people see me and know I am good at what I do.
“I got to meet Chris Hoy too and I rode with him not long ago so he recognised me, which was nice. We just had a chat about sprint stuff and it was good fun.”
SSE are partnering with SportsAid to support the sporting stars of the future as part of their commitment to Glasgow 2014 and beyond with their SSE Next Generation ambassador programme. Keep up to date with the latest @YourSSE