The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, 45, says pushy mums don’t help kids succeed
Dame Sarah Storey, 45, is Britain’s most successful Paralympian with 17 gold medals for swimming and cycling, winning her first aged just 14. She lives in Cheshire with husband Barney, also a former Paralympian, and children, Louisa, nine, and Charlie, five.
People often ask me about the sacrifice sport requires — especially now I have children — but I don’t see it that way. If you start viewing what you do as a sacrifice, resentment can sneak in.
I enjoy what I do and that’s important. I’m not saying I love every second but, beneath all the hard work, there is a strong undercurrent of joy. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.
Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, 45, (pictured) says pushy mums don’t help kids succeed. She says most sportswomen go into their career expecting to retire before they become mothers
It’s even better now I can share it with my children. Thanks to my job, we’ve had the chance to travel to incredible places around the world and that’s been a great learning experience for the kids.
Most sportswomen go into their career expecting to retire before they become mothers — or at least they used to.
But there have been a number of trailblazing women who are shifting that narrative — Tanni Grey-Thompson, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Laura Kenny, to name but a few. You can see that change happening and I’m proud to be part of it, showing that it’s possible to be both a successful athlete and a mother.
Who knows what will happen to our children? Perhaps they will go on to become sporting stars. Whatever they do, they’ll have grown up with role models with a strong work ethic.
I encourage my children to make their own choices. That’s the way I was brought up. If I wanted to go to early morning swimming training, I had to set my alarm and wake up my parents to take me. My daughter is now doing 5am sessions and she has to do the same.
There’s no pressure on our kids. If they say they don’t want to do something any more as they’re not enjoying it, that’s fine. There are no set rules.
You can’t rely on your parents to drive you on, as, ultimately, on race day, no one else can push you on. It’s just you and the bike.
- Dame Sarah Storey is principal of the Skoda DSI Cycling Academy, set up to support aspiring female cyclists. Go to skoda.co.uk/ discover/cycling-academy.
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