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Supporting our next sporting heroes

For most people, knowing you would rank 5th in the world at your chosen sport, might give you a bit of swag.  If this world ranking was achieved at 14, one could be forgiven for being a touch arrogant. Particularly if you’ve been talent spotted at the age of 8, had the opportunity to meet and compete with your sporting heroes and if you’d broken 3 world records. Superiority abounds! Except, that is, if you are Lauren Booth.

What’s astonishing about Lauren is not how she’s overcome bacterial meningitis in her infancy, battled with cerebral palsy, hearing and mobility challenges to become a world class athlete, it’s how sincerely modest and considered she is with it all.

Being given a specially modified trike by the Meningitis Trust at 4 to ease the toddler’s increasing frustration at her lack of independence, whet Lauren’s appetite for wheels. She was soon determined she would ride her older brother’s bike. When she firmly rejected the condition that she’d need stabilizers, Lauren’s mother, Lisajayne played the ‘learn by your own mistakes’ parenting card and let Lauren get on the 2 wheeler, fully expecting to have to apply plasters and ‘I told you so’ shortly thereafter. She didn’t. To Lisajayne’s astonished joy, Lauren aced the bike from the off and was soon an enthusiastic member of the Chippenham Wheelers cycle club.

Lauren started going to the Castle Combe summer series and there, aged 8 she was spotted by a talent scout and invited to attend Saturday training sessions at the Newport Velodrome with Disability Sport Wales. 18 months in to this new-found passion for vertiginous speed, management at the velodrome changed the rules, disallowing anyone under the age of 10 from using the velodrome. Thrown into health and safety purgatory, Lauren had to wait a frustrating 6 months for double digits to get back on the track. By happy chance, her Birthday that year fell on a Saturday and there was no question about where she would be blowing out her candles that year.

In 2013, Lauren broke her first World Record for the Flying 200; impressive at any age but considering she was 12 at the time, it was a double edged sword as her age precluded formal recognition of the achievement.  It did, at least, lead to a sponsorship offer from Planet X who provide her with both a road and training bike. She’s smashed the record for her favourite event twice more since then, but laws which require a drug test official to be present, mean neither of the times have been officially recognised. Lauren’s entirely unperturbed by this lack of acknowledgement.  She has the quiet commitment of one who knows it will happen. And when the time comes, she’ll have more track hours on her legs and will take the record by an even greater margin.

PSG became involved with Lauren’s journey in 2013 when we started sponsoring her through the Funding Future Olympians and Paralympians initiative. We’ve been blown away by a young sportswoman whose talent is matched by her dedication and we are thrilled to play some small part in supporting her ambition to be part of the Tokyo Paralympics.

Contrary to her medical diagnosis, Lauren Booth is beautifully balanced. And speedy as hell.