Grit & determination, how much does it take to be a GB athlete?
Olympian Laura Weightman has earned her spot in many major events from World Championships in Canada and China, to Olympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016. She tells us about her journey to the top, of the importance of encouragement at a young age and how to keep it together during the highs and lows of competing.
How old were you when you started athletics and how did you get into the sport?
I began running around the age of 12 it was my teachers at school who encouraged me to join my local club after seeing I was doing well in school races, I was quite a lively child so think they thought a cross country race may tire me out! Cross country was where I initially started and I loved it but I slowly got better and better on the track. I think what I remember from when I was little was just how much I loved running, I enjoyed an afternoon away from school with my friends!
How important was your local club and coaches when you were starting out?
My local running club was hugely influential in my development as a young athlete. I joined Morpeth Harriers at the age of 12 and I am still proud to represent them today running as many road and cross country races as I can throughout the year. Without my first coach Mike Bateman, who coached me until the age of 18, I wouldn’t have got to where I am today. Morpeth Harriers got me involved in all types of road races, cross country races, track races and team events. I would be often seen doing relays, triple jump or a throw alongside my favoured running events at the young athlete leagues growing up!
How has the journey been of battling with the hard times but reaping the triumphs? (Highs & lows)
My journey like many other athletes has had many obstacles in the way but this is what makes all those special moments worth the upset, defeat and lows. As a young athlete growing up I had a tough battle with asthma and hayfever related allergies which is something that took years to get under control and something still today I have to monitor. For me, London 2012 will always be one of the most special moments of my career alongside winning my first international medal in 2014 at the Commonwealth Games and European Championships. These moments make the lows seem insignificant.
What level of preparation does it take to be an Olympian?
To be an Olympian and reaching the highest level of sport takes years of hard work and dedication. I train twice a day most days running 70miles a week from October throughout the winter and a little less in the summer, this makes sure I am in the best shape that I can be. All of it has been made worthwhile as the reward of reaching the Olympic Games outweighs the long hard training days.
What was the feeling like of going into the Olympic final at Rio?
There is nothing more special than representing my country at the Olympic Games, words can’t describe the honour of representing Team GB and putting on the Olympic kit. It is a childhood dream achieved! To have achieved my dream in London and Rio will always be two of my career highlights. To be stood on the start line of an Olympic final is an incredible feeling.
What does 2017 hold for you?
2017 is an exciting year as the World Athletic Championships are in London, back at the Olympic stadium. This will be an amazing experience to have the opportunity to compete back in another global home championship.
Do you have any New Year's resolutions?
I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions but looking at 2017 I am telling myself to enjoy every moment I put my spikes on to go out and race. This is what all the days of training are for so enjoy the moments!!