One of the issues with talent development programmes in sport is that they can often lead to young athletes focusing solely on becoming the best in their chosen sport at an early age, to the detriment of anything else. Cycling is no different. But when former World and Olympic champions are having to go back to the drawing board in their late twenties, and indeed the 2014 World Road Race Champion (at the time) was not employed by her team, but by the French Government instead, then it is important to ensure that young female cyclists are aware of all options open to them, not just those that are focused on cycling.
First things first, this is not about crushing anybody's dreams. Dreams are important, as they help you focus on what you want to achieve in life, but it is also important to have perspective and reality in equal measures too. One of our aims at Racing Chance HQ is to provide our members with the tools needed to be successful in life, not solely on a bike, because after all, life is not just about the bike.
One of the things to remember about cycling is that bike riding and female empowerment and emancipation goes back further than you may realise. In 1914, a Suffragette called Alice Hawkins rode around the city of Leicester on her bike, promoting the movement for women's rights. Further back still, in 1896, American Civil Rights leader, Susan B Anthony talked about how the bicycle gives a woman "a feeling of self-reliance and independence". There's also a lot of research about how women are more likely to take up leadership roles if they have been involved in competitive sports whilst at school or college (examples to prove this include US Presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde).
Regardless of what people tell you, the majority of decision makers tend to be male so your ability to be able to engage with these male decision makers in your career will be influential in how far you progress. Being involved in competitive sport can help you develop the confidence needed to engage with the decision makers, at the same time as developing an ability to focus on goals and manage your time correctly, skills which women need in order to progress up the career ladder.
Now not everybody can become a world leader, just as not every single cyclist can become a world champion or a Grand Tour winner, but making sure that you're equipped with the necessary tools to become successful in whatever you want to do in life is definitely not to be sniffed at. At Racing Chance, we can help by showing you positive female role models who compete in various disciplines whilst still having a successful career.
You really don't need to solely focus on either the cycling industry or as a cycling professional as your chose career path as there are loads of exciting opportunities out there, most of which you will probably not have come across, which can lead to a rewarding career in the future. But being involved in competitive cycling can definitely help you climb up your chosen career path.
Until next time...