Natural talent doesn’t even begin to explain how St Helens teenager Lauren Bate-Lowe has risen from casual cyclist to elite racer – and she’s happy to keep everyone guessing.
Bate-Lowe only took up cycling last year and, with just nine months’ experience on the track, the 14-year-old earned a place on British Cycling’s Olympic Talent Programme.
She finished fifth in the under-16 sprint at the National Youth and Junior Championships in August – despite being just 13 at the time – and is now gearing up for another big year.
The London 2012 Olympics served as Bate-Lowe’s inspiration and the Tower College student is set on breaking down more barriers as she takes small steps towards her own Games dreams.
“It has been a good start to the year,” she said. “I have only been cycling for just over a year and it has been really quick progress and everything is still all new.
“My next big target is the Nationals again in August and hopefully I am aiming for silver in the sprint and aiming for a new personal best.
“I am aiming for a time of 12.3 seconds or better if I can.
“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 the cycling at the Olympics on television and I got into it that way.”
Bate-Lowe’s efforts haven’t gone unnoticed and she’s a member of the SSE Next Generation ambassador scheme, which provides support for some of the UK’s brightest sporting prospects.
She rubbed shoulders with six-time Olympic track cycling champion Sir Chris Hoy at a get-together in Loughborough – and has just as much ambition to reach the pinnacle herself.
“It is great to have the support and it can help me buy equipment 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 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.”
g 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