Young cycling prodigy Nathan Hardy didn’t have to look far to fuel his dream of becoming a future Olympics and World Championships superstar. Counting two-time Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton as one of his neighbours, it didn’t take the 16-year-old long to jump in the saddle and start to make waves on the cycling scene.
Despite having endured a string of crushing setbacks in his relatively short career so far, the Welwyn Wheelers rider is focused on making the most of his potential in a sport he says he loves. And with ambitions set for both the short and the long term, the Samuel Whitbread Academy student is a man with a plan and eager to emulate his local hero.
“Victoria Pendleton lives just down the road from me,” said Nathan - who is currently being supported by the Thompson Trust through SportsAid. “I just thought, ‘If she can, why not me?’. I went down to the same club she had ridden for and was hooked instantly.
“I remember coming second last in my first race when I was nine – I was riding a really heavy mountain bike and the marshals had to help me up the steep banks.
“But I gradually worked my way up the ranks and really enjoyed reaching the various milestones – things like my first win and my first prize money.
“Then I suffered a really bad injury at the Herne Hill Velodrome in London where I broke my collarbone after a huge pile-up. That took me a long time to recover from, but I was always itching to get back in the saddle and achieve my goals.
“My ultimate ambition is to go on to represent my country at all the top events. I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure I can do that.”
While it promises to be a big year for Nathan in terms of cycling, he must also balance his sporting commitments with an ever-increasing school workload.
But with the unequivocal support of his friends and family, Nathan is working hard to ensure he manages his time in the most efficient way to ensure he is successful in all walks of life.
He said: “You’ve just got to be committed 100 per cent and plan ahead so you know what you’re doing at all times. I find that my training and cycling work quite well around each other and I don’t find the balance too difficult.
“My future all depends on how far I can go in cycling, but at the moment I’m planning on going to university to study meteorology or oceanography. I’m feeling very determined to succeed in all I do and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
What will you do to #SupportTheNext generation of British sporting heroes? SportsAid needs your help to ensure talented athletes can continue receiving the backing they rely on. Find out more about how you can support the charity and have a significant impact on the country’s sporting future!