|Rachel Heal Profile|
- Born: April 1 1973 - Bebington, Wirral
- 2000 - receives lottery funding & wins National Women's Road Race series
- October 2001 - represents GB, World Road Championships, Portugal
- Summer 2002 - bronze medallist Manchester Commonwealth Games Road Race
- Summer 2004 - Athens Olympics Road Race
- 2004 - Joins Dutch team Farm Frites-Hartol
- 2005 - Joins Danish team SATS
She has been selected as a member of the England cycling team for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia in March and is hoping to follow up her Manchester medal with another one in Melbourne.
“To race in front of a home crowd in Manchester was an amazing experience. It gave me a real lift and to actually manage to get a medal there was something I will never forget,” she recalls.
Rachel was born in Wirral, Merseyside but now lives in Manchester and trains at the Manchester Velodrome in addition to doing road and gym work. “The facilities at the velodrome are fantastic - Manchester is one of the best tracks in the world,” she says.
|Rachel wins bronze at Manchester 2002|
She got into competitive cycling almost by accident. “I started off cycling just as a hobby and as a way to keep fit. I was then persuaded to take part in a race and found that I really enjoyed it,” she explains.
“Initially, when I started racing, I wasn’t very good at it but the competitive spirit kicked in and once I had done more training, I started to improve, and with a couple of years of racing I started to realise I could reach quite a high standard.
“After about three years of racing, I gave up my full-time job and started training and racing full-time. It has just progressed from there. It has been a fantastic experience all round. Representing Great Britain has been a childhood dream and probably one that I didn’t expect to realise.”
|"Representing Great Britain has been a childhood dream and probably one that I didn’t expect to realise."|
|Rachel Heal on her pride at competing|
She is training hard for the Commonwealth Games in March, though not all has gone to plan in 2005. “It has been a pretty up-and-down season this year for me,” she says.
“I was injured early on in the year after having had some great form, but the form came good at around the time of the world championships – which is when you need it – so the season ended on a high note.”
Rachel, a qualified chemical engineer, will have some close family support in Melbourne.
“My sister had recently started working as a member of the cycling team,” she says. "So instead of being a supporter, as she was in Manchester, she’s actually going to be a member of staff, so it will be great to have her out there with me.”