Focus on... Crystal Lane
When Crystal Lane first picked up cycling by chance two years ago, she had no idea it would take her on to be picked to represent Team GB, win bronze at the 2011 Para-Cycling Road World Championships and be named Jaguar Academy of Sport ‘Star of the Future’.
Currently studying for a masters in Sport Nutrition at the University, Loughborough has always been a contender for her due to its fantastic performance sport support and related courses, as Crystal explains:
“I think Loughborough’s reputation alone, stands it in the highest possible rankings in the country for sport, and to be an athlete to come here – I think a lot of it was opportunity. I felt that coming to Loughborough would be more likely to give me the most opportunities in order to make a career in sport. This is an amazing place, both from a future career point of view and as an athlete.”
I felt that coming to Loughborough would be more likely to give me the most opportunities in order to make a career in sport. This is an amazing place, both from a future career point of view and as an athlete.
With an interest in sport from an early age, and a history of successful achievements, Crystal’s decision to pick up cycling two years ago has been an exciting experience:
“I played football for years and years. I never came from a background of cyclists so I wasn’t really exposed to do it as a kid. In football I got to county level and I went and played at an academy when I was doing my BTEC in Sport Science. I then decided that football wasn’t really for me anymore, I’d taken it to a reasonably high level and realised it wasn’t quite where I wanted it to go.”
“I kept myself fit, but then in 2008 I watched Sarah Storey, a Paralympic cyclist, compete in the Beijing Paralympics. She’s so successful and she’s has the same disability as me. I’d never thought of myself as having a disability before, but for the first time I realised that I could be classified and potentially look to compete in the Paralympics.”
In 2009, Crystal applied for the UK Sport’s Paralympic Potential Talent ID programme and was invited to trial with British Cycling. Born with an under-developed left arm that means Crystal is missing fingers on her left hand, she was classed as a C5 athlete and uses a bike that allows her to control both of her brakes and gears with her right hand.
Training in both road and track cycling, and competing in races such as the 3000 metre pursuit and the 500 metre sprint, Crystal has been one of three athletes selected onto the GB Para-Cycling Talent Team:
“Being a part of Team GB and British cycling is very professional. From the very first time that I met my team mates, they have been so supportive. I learn from them as much as I learn from my coach who works incredibly hard with me.”
While Crystal’s cycling career has become extremely important in her life, her degree and future career is considered by her to be just as important:
“For me, nutrition has just been my passion for years. It supplements my training really well and so helps me actually be the best that I can be. Sport nutrition is really important in an athlete’s life in order to keep fit and strong and I’m quite interested in looking at tailoring your nutrition to maximise your full potential as an athlete.”
“My department also makes me feel that my degree and future career is just as important as my sport. They recognise that you’re an athlete training towards something that is incredibly big, but that your career can be the most important part at University as it’s something you will eventually have to fall back on, which is really good.”
Crystal has found her department and module tutors to be supportive, as she juggles a full time masters with her intense training:
“I’ve had to change my exams previously, and put them back and it’s been a really simple and stress-free process. The support of my module leader, Susan Shirreffs, has just been first class throughout; I really can’t fault it. All my lecturers are really understanding of what I am doing which is so helpful.”
My department makes me feel that my degree and future career is just as important as my sport. They recognise that you’re an athlete training towards something that is incredibly big, but that your career can be the most important part.
Coming to Loughborough as a sport scholarship student has also enabled her to train and study for her degree without the additional pressures:
“If it wasn’t for the support of the sport scholarship I would have had to face the fact that I’ve got a masters fee to pay, training for London for which I’m not a funded athlete, and I’d have to get a job. Which just isn’t feasible with the amount of training I do and something would have had to go. I think in the end, it would have been the cycling, as the degree is more important.”
“Having the scholarship has enabled me to concentrate wholeheartedly on training for London. There is a lot of maintenance that goes into bikes and the money is definitely helping me maintain my bike.”
Crystal is certainly looking to compete in the London 2012 Paralympics, though it will not be the end if she doesn’t make a spot:
“London 2012 is definitely something that I’m aiming for. Whether it will to happen though is not in my control. But the coaches keep on telling me my targets, and I will try and give everything to hit those targets. I would love to sit here and confidently say ‘yes I can go to London’ but that just isn’t the case. If London doesn’t come then I’ll begin to look at Rio 2016.
Crystal is in a phase of her training currently focused on strengthening her body. With the new state-of-the-art facilities found at Powerbase, Crystal couldn’t ask for a more equipped campus to meet her needs:
“Having Powerbase makes things really easy. I’m doing a lot of strengthening and conditioning work at the moment, which is tough going and takes up a lot of effort. Having these fantastic facilities and support right at my fingertips has meant that I can really focus on increasing my body strength and not worry about issues such as transport and getting there or what support I might need during training; it’s set up for you already.”
Follow Crystal and her journey via Twitter.