Interview with Laura Siddall
Laura Siddall is one of the most successful age groupers around having won age group World championship titles in all but the Ironman distance disciplines. Being in her early thirties she took the leap of faith, quit her job and moved to the US to pursue her athletic dreams. After toughing it out last season she put herself on the map in Challenge Wanaka earlier this year by clocking an impressive bike split and finishing in close proximity of experienced world class athlete Yvonne Van Vlerken. I am proud to call this inspiring person my friend and asked her a few questions.
How did you end up racing triathlon?
"I grew up playing sport, Netball, Athletics, Hockey and anything else I could. However it was actually when I was a lot older and living in Sydney that I started Triathlon. It was friends from work that suggested I should give triathlon a go. I’d signed up for a charity bike ride with these friends and bought a bike (a hybrid road/mountain bike) the week before. It was after this ride that they suggested I should tri Triathlon. So I searched out for a beginners group and signed up to give it a go."
What does your sport mean to you?
"Sport has played a massive part of my life. I have had so many amazing opportunities through playing sport. Not just triathlon but the sports I played as I grew up. I have a mix of team sports and individual sports as a background which I think is great as you learn so many different skills about team work, leaderships, relationships and interaction with different people (peers, coaches, managers, governing bodies etc.) The skills I have learnt through sport have helped me in my corporate career and life in general. Sport makes me feel alive. I love the endorphins you get when you are training or competing or when you just feel fit and healthy. It’s a buzz, an addictive buzz!"
Photo of Laura Siddall (left) by Witsup
What made you take the leap of faith and move to the US to pursue your sporting career whilst having a successful engineering career already?
"I started in the sport so late, and was fortunate to have some great results as an Age Grouper, that I got to a place where I thought…. “It’s now or never” The corporate world would always be there, but sport has a time limit to some extent with age. I didn’t want to look back in 10 or 20years time and say what if. It’s my “don’t die wondering” motto."
What have you learned by stepping it up to professional racing?
"I think the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to just try and immerse in the process and journey. It’s easy to suddenly put pressure on yourself to perform, to be at a higher standard, and feel you have all these eyes looking on you and your performances. You can make there be a pressure to try to work out how to make it sustainable, how to make money to continue your passion. At the end of the day though, it was my choice, and you have to remember to love it and embrace it."
Women are under constant pressure to settle down and have a family yet we see women in their 40's achieve unbelievable things these days, what are your thoughts on this?
"Funny I’ve just read an article about 4 women (all 45 or over) who just rowed across the Atlantic. All 4 women were parents too! That’s pretty impressive to me. I think it’s becoming more acceptable that women can have careers in sport or other sectors and then think about a family later in life, or come back to that post family. What I think is important is that women just have the confidence to believe they can achieve. Women who can then inspire their daughters or children to be brave and courageous, and be happy and confident in their decisions and life."
Keep riding! Be #Strongher
Interview by Nienke Oostra
About Nienke Oostra
Nienke Oostra is a fierce competitor with big dreams. She started cycling late in life as until her early thirties she let her veterinary career lead her all over the world until her dream of becoming an elite athlete took over. Her goal for upcoming season is to qualify for the UCI MTB Marathon MTB World championship’s again and better her ranking from last year. And after 2 bad triathlon seasons she wants to feel good again and have fun again.
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