Dame Sarah Storey, 11-time Paralympic cycling gold medallist, is expecting her first child this month but she’s carried on training hard – thanks to a little help from experts at the University of Brighton’s campus in Eastbourne.
The 35-year-old’s due date is coming up fast – 23 June – but Dame Sarah is keeping herself in tip-top condition for possible participation in events later this year, and has joked about having baby in a car behind her bike with the driver hooting each time it needs feeding.
She said, “The chance of me riding in the Para-Cycling Road World Championships in August is purely dependent on the baby and how we both are in the weeks after the birth.
“My training is continuing through my pregnancy because that is the safest thing for the baby and I. Whatever a person has done before pregnancy in terms of exercise they can continue during pregnancy with lower intensity in order to ensure the body doesn’t go into a type of shock over the sudden lack of activity. The training now is to support both the baby and I for the birth and hopefully a quicker recovery after which could lead to competing as early as the World Championships.
Dame Sarah has been training with Dr Gary Brickley, senior lecturer at the University of Brighton’s School of Sport and Service Management in Eastbourne, who was recently was awarded a Mussabini Medal at the Sports Coach UK awards for coaching athletes to outstanding success on the world stage.
Dr Brickley said, “The training Dame Sarah is doing now is low relative to what she normally does but quite high relative to a general person who potters on their bike.”
Dame Sarah said, “Working with Gary and discussing my options has been invaluable as it has given me the confidence to keep training within some simple boundaries.
“Often it is the confidence issue that women face when deciding how much exercise to do and it is hard for non-specialists to give a balanced view. Gary has been able to support my decisions and gut instincts with scientific reasoning and medical advice ensuring I have kept the right balance in my workload.”
Dame Sarah said her baby appears unaffected by the training. “The midwife checks have all shown I am low risk and the baby is developing well,” said Sarah.
““I am doing low level aerobic training to maintain my stamina and basic endurance. The hours I have been doing have reduced a fraction since I entered the final 10 weeks but the aim has been to be as in good a shape as possible to give birth and hopefully allow my body the recover quicker after.”
Dame Sarah has her sights on the Rio Paralympics in 2016 and said, “In terms of the relevance of this training for Rio, the time on the bike will continue to support my efficiency development and the physiological challenges that pregnancy presents will obviously be dealt with by my body whilst supporting the growth of the baby.”