“Sport provides so many amazing opportunities for growth and being a part of other athletes’ journeys is even better than doing it yourself. The great thing about being a development coach is you get to see this journey from the very beginning.”
Since retiring as a Para cycling pilot, Laura Thompson has enjoyed a successful transition into life after elite competition. The New Zealander has become a Para Cycling National Development Coach, training the top athletes ahead of big competitions and setting the foundations for a new generation of cyclists to emerge.
“My transition out of sport has been very smooth,” she said. “I think mentally, I began preparing for the transition well before it happened and later in my career I worked hard at ensuring my identity wasn’t completely tied up in being an athlete.
“This helped me to transfer my skills and start pursuing other things I enjoyed.”
With the Maniago 2018 Road World Championships just around the corner and the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics approaching fast, Thompson is excited for the future.
“Currently, New Zealand has a very promising Para cycling programme, the squad has changed a lot since Rio and new athletes are really stepping up and showing they can compete on the world stage,” she said. “This is very exciting looking towards Tokyo 2020.”
New Zealand claimed two cycling medals at the 2016 Paralympics. Thompson, as pilot for Emma Foy, claimed silver in the women’s 3,000m individual pursuit B and bronze in the women’s road race B.
“Trust is a very important component of a good tandem pairing, so being really confident, honest and consistent are all really key to building the relationship and trust,” said Thompson.
“Riding a tandem is different to a single bike so developing a lot of strength and stability as an athlete is also really important.”
Seeing the journey
As her career as a pilot came to an end, Thompson prefers to focus on the opportunities her new role brings.
“I really enjoy my work for Paralympics New Zealand,” said Thompson. “Sport provides so many amazing opportunities for growth and being a part of other athletes’ journeys is even better than doing it yourself.
“The great thing about being a development coach is you get to see this journey from the very beginning.”
Since giving birth to her son Patrick, Thompson has had to balance being a single mother with her work in Para cycling.
“I have learnt that you can fit a lot more into your day than I thought [while] being an athlete and that sleep is not always required,” she said.
“I am very fortunate to work for such a supportive organisation and this has helped me balance both my career and being a mother to my one-year-old son Patrick. In the first year of Patrick’s life he has been on 43 flights and attended his first Para Cycling Track World Championships in Rio in March.”
The 2018 Road World Championships will take place from 2-5 August.