Laura Trott: On Top Of The World
Published 24 March 2016
Few will forget a pigtailed Laura Trott, draped in a union jack as she stood before hordes of photographers, beaming and teary-eyed having won the second of her two Olympic gold medals at London 2012.
Four years on, those medals are part of a far larger collection that includes seven world crowns, a Commonwealth gold and ten European titles, plus countless national accolades.
Now, as the 23-year-old gears up for what will be her second Games, she acknowledges how dramatically the landscape has changed for her.
“The difference between preparing for Rio and preparing for London is that no one knew me beforehand,” says Laura. “I’m not an outsider anymore and people expect me to win; that brings its own kind of pressure.”
Yet Trott certainly isn’t looking for sympathy.
“It comes with the territory, that’s cycling. Everyone is always looking at each other, you get used to it,” she states, brightly, and you sense she rather enjoys the challenge.
She has a very recent example up her sleeve, having returned from the UCI Track Cycling World Championships on her home track in London with two individual gold medals.
“It was massive being back in London, I absolutely love that track, and it holds so many great memories for me.
“Looking back, it went fantastically for me, I was really happy coming away with two medals.”
“Going into the World Championships, I had a lot of pressure on me and it didn’t hold me back, so I’m hoping that I can do the same [in Rio].”
Was the event tinged with any regret, following the team’s bronze medal in the team pursuit, an event that Great Britain has dominated in recent years?
“It obviously started with a little bit of disappointment but we turned it around. We broke our national record, so we still came away with a real positive.”
After a shaky start in qualifying, the team recovered to beat New Zealand in the bronze medal race, recording a quicker time than the USA set en route to winning gold.
There is no doubt they will be aiming to retain their title in Rio, and Trott makes no qualms about that, quick to point out the team is “always striving for gold”, every race, every event.
She does, however, speak with a note of caution, reminding that despite the squad’s stellar medal record at the highest level, it is no easy task to keep up.
“Because we win gold medals, and because of the performances we’ve had at the last two Olympics, people might think that it’s easy, but so much hard work goes into this, we have to turn ourselves inside out, day in, day out.”
It is a timely reminder of what it takes to be a champion, as UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and British Cycling are currently looking for future stars of the sport, through talent ID campaign #DiscoverYourPower.
For Trott, a cyclist since the age of eight, it was the rush of winning that drove her to the top in the sport, having also excelled in swimming and trampolining as a youngster.
“I remember when I won my first race, and that feeling, that made me think, perhaps I can do this, maybe I am quite good!”
Having experienced that first taste, now Trott cannot imagine it any other way as she enters the final few months of preparation before the defence of her Olympic titles in Rio later this summer.
Put simply, she says: “Cycling is my life. It’s what I live for.”
Are you aged 15-21, fast and powerful, with the drive to win? Sign up now for #DiscoverYourPower http://www.uksport.gov.uk/talent
Laura Trott is one of 1,300 athletes supported by UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Programme.
Scroll through the gallery below to see Laura's best moments from the 2010 European Championships to the 2016 World Championships: