Nicole Cooke MBE, cyclist

Nicole Cooke

The professional cyclist reveals what it takes to become a World and Olympic champion as well as plans for the future of women's British Cycling.

Raise Your Game: What makes you a champion? Is it attitude, talent or a combination of the two?

Nicole Cooke: Sport is a mixture of lots of different factors. Not only is it about the months of training and preparation, but it's about building up a relationship with my coach, to a point where I feel I can say "Actually, I'm not as good as I need to be. We need to work on it."

Profile

Name:
Nicole Cooke

Event:
Cycling

Achievements:

  • Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year (2009)
  • Appointed MBE (2009)
  • World Road Race Champion (2008)
  • Olympic Road Race Champion (2008)
  • British Road Race Champion (2001-2007, 2009)
  • Commonwealth Games - bronze medalist (2006)
  • World Cup overall series winner - including 3 rounds (2003)
  • Welsh Sports Personality of the Year (2003)
  • Commonwealth Games - gold medalist (2002)

Psychology and tactics are very important in road racing. You can have some sports, like the 100m sprint, where the gun goes and you run straight to the finish line and nobody comes into your lane. In road racing we have to share our racing track. It's all about choosing the right line around the corner, judging the correct speed, where you overtake, which way the wind's coming from and whether there are any potholes on the road.

RYG: You have recently set up your own cycling team. How important is teamwork?

NC: I achieved my dreams in cycling in 2008 by becoming World and Olympic champion and hopefully I can do it all again, however, that would just be repeating the same thing again and I wanted a new challenge.

Teamwork plays a vital role in cycling and I have always wanted to set up my own team. We've taken on riders that are relatively unknown. They haven't been proven on an international stage so they have raw talent. That's really who we want to work with because we can help them develop and they won't have to unlearn bad habits.

The aim is that in a few years' time we'll have riders from team Vision 1 at the Olympic games, which would be absolutely incredible for us, and in the meantime, continue to have a lot of fun at the races.

RYG: Are role models important?

NC: I hope to provide young riders with a good role model myself because there was nobody really there as a role model for me in Great Britain. I had to make my own path and make my own decisions. To be able to help the young British riders come through is something that I'm able to give back from my luck, in terms of my achievements.

RYG: What advice would you give to young people looking to follow in your footsteps?

NC: First of all, have fun because that's what will get you through the hard times. If you're not enjoying it, you'll find that when it's raining and your legs hurt you'll stop, but if you really want it then that will help keep you going.

Grab some friends to go out training with or a training group because then you've got people around you that are going through the same experiences. You can help them and they can help you. If you really want to do it, then you'll be prepared to put in the hard work.


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