17 Aug Golden Girl Laura talks Life Outside of Sport
Laura Sugar has just finished the World Para Athletics European Championships with a gold in the ladies 4 x 100m Universal Relay, and two bronze medals in the 100m and 200m. This latest success will add to her incredible catalogue of previous sporting success, including an international hockey career representing Wales, a subsequent transition to athletics in 2013 after being inspired by London 2012 and a current number two world ranking in the T44 100m and 200m. Add to this a teaching qualification and her role as a Mintridge Ambassador, Laura is a great example of how creating a fulfilling life away from sport can have a positive effect on an athlete’s overall well-being.
With many more years left to compete and possibly even try other Paralympic sports, retirement from competitive sport is not on the cards for Laura any time soon. However, through witnessing other teammates’ experiences, Laura understands that, sometimes, retirement isn’t the choice of the athlete and, as a result, has invested time creating a fulfilling life outside of sport.
“I only started competing in athletics at 22 so I feel like I have a lot of years left to train and improve in athletics and am not planning to retire any time soon,” explains Laura. “Whilst competing in hockey, I trained and qualified as a teacher, so I am aware that I have something to fall back on. However, recently, I have definitely become more confident in my abilities and feel that I could actually explore other opportunities too.”
Laura puts some of her new-found confidence down to the Switch the Play Masterclasses she attended at The Mintridge Foundation where she is also an Ambassador. “My role at Mintridge enables me to visit schools, colleges and awards evenings where I can speak to young people and inspire a new generation to become more active, which is really rewarding.
“During my time as an Ambassador I have been invited to attend a number of Switch the Play Masterclasses, the first being on Transferable Skills. It really opened my eyes to how many skills I have acquired through training, competing and being part of a team. This is when I started to believe in my abilities and feel that if my career ended unexpectedly I would actually have the confidence to try something new rather than thinking teaching was my only option. Before this, I would think of a particular job and then talk myself out of it because I didn’t feel I could do it, but now I believe I could try many different things which is exciting.
“I have also attended Masterclasses on Mentoring and Presentation Skills which have both been really beneficial. I enjoy attending them because I’m learning new skills and gaining a greater understanding of how to achieve success outside of sport.”
As well as Masterclasses, Laura has also used Switch the Play’s online platform Switched On, which is used by athletes to create online profiles that showcase all their accomplishments both on and off the track, making it easy for potential employees and sponsors to engage. Laura’s profile can be found here .
Despite Laura’s rigorous training regime, which occupies her for four hours a day, six days a week, she relishes her time away from the track coaching school children in an Uppingham School. “Coaching for just 1.5 hours a day during my spare time actually re-energises me and I turn up to training the next day refreshed and ready to take on the session. I absolutely believe that having other things to do away from sport and training really helps me keep a balance and an enthusiasm for the sport I love.”
When asked what advice she would give to athletes just starting their career Laura said, “As long as you are enjoying your sport, give it all you have but also allocate time to exploring other opportunities. Studying has really helped me take my mind away from sport and reduce some of the stress. Looking at how my peers had studied while training and gone on to achieve success has also been an inspiration to me.”
Read more about Laura’s incredible sporting achievements here.
Switch the Play Masterclasses are available for individuals and organisations so if you are interested in attending or want to know more information, please register your interest by clicking here. https://mailchi.mp/ecc08b090aac/switchtheplay
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