Lara Gillespie: "I'm Not Letting Other People's Opinions Affect My Day, My Plans Or My Goals."

Lara Gillespie: "I'm Not Letting Other People's Opinions Affect My Day, My Plans Or My Goals." Lara Gillespie: "I'm Not Letting Other People's Opinions Affect My Day, My Plans Or My Goals."

Irish cyclist Lara Gillespie has continued to thrive on the international stage.

Since Her Sport last spoke to Lara in 2020, she has graduated from UCD Dublin with a BSc. in Health and Performance Science while continuing to achieve numerous cycling accolades; pedalling towards her Olympic dreams. Although Lara has continued to further her studies through part-time research with UCD, she now has more freedom to put her energy into training and racing.

Last year, Lara was selected to be one of the recipients of the OSI Paris scholarships. These scholarships aim to support athletes in their preparation and qualification journey for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Despite her talent, this scholarship was a surprise for the young athlete, who was left speechless after receiving the news. "I was so happy! I was really delighted, and it's really making a big difference. Every little bit really does help towards the Olympics."


So far, the bid to qualify for the Olympics has been positive for the cyclist and her team. After three successful European Championships, Ireland's team is making good progress.


Lara is hoping to qualify for multiple events - the main event being the team pursuit, a four kilometre time trial with four cyclists. Qualification for this event also automatically qualifies the team for the two other events, the Madison and Omnium. The Madison sees two riders in a race for 120 laps and the Omnium is an individual event in an endurance race.

"But we'll see how and if that would be possible or not. But the track team pursuit is our vessel right now," Lara chuckles.

Making it to the Olympics is a dream for any professional athlete. Lara recalls how her Olympic dreams started in her childhood: "I remember when I was maybe eight years old, I was running around in the playground at school and was thinking that I was really fast playing catch. I thought to myself, I'm gonna go to the Olympics for sprinting!" 

"I wasn't a cyclist back then and I just loved sport in general. It's funny that I just kind of plucked that idea out of thin air and it actually is a possibility now that I could become an Olympic athlete."

In the rare moments Lara receives a break from her rigorous training schedule, she takes full advantage of relaxing at her home in Wicklow.

"When I'm home, I like to spend my time in nature like gardening or going for slow walks with my dog. I also love cooking with my granny!"

"It's just those simple things I really miss when I'm away."

Lara has been cycling since she was in fourth year. After qualifying for the Youth Olympics at 16, she decided to pursue it further. Since hitting the international stage, Lara has noted how the media is constantly in support of male sports, including cycling.

"I think it can be hard for women in sport because the media focuses a lot on the men. It's difficult if women can't even see who the best female athletes are and who young girls can aspire to be like."

However, this has not deterred Lara from her love for cycling and she continues to encourage women to get involved. "When you get involved, you actually realise there are lots of women taking part. And once you're in it, there's a big difference from what the media might portray."

"Cycling has given me so many opportunities to meet people, to travel the world and to compete against the best. I have the opportunity to better myself every day, where I'm challenging my mindset and challenging my body physically."

Lara's cycling accolades has seen her become the face for many brands and events, her most recent being the upcoming Barretstown Cycle Challenge. Barretstown offers free, specially designed camps and programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness.

Lara expressed how this is a great opportunity for all cyclists: "You can either pick between a one, two or three day cycle, which I think opens up to a wide variety of people and you don't even have to be a regular cyclist."

"I think just being involved with Barretstown is a positive thing. I really have loved getting to meet the people there and admire the work they do in Ireland. Everyone should get involved by supporting the great event and its cause."

When discussing her passion for sport, Lara speaks from experience when stating her belief that sport has the power to open doors for anyone who tries it: "No one should be embarrassed about learning - I'm still learning every single day. And that's the fun of it. Even if you're a professional or a beginner, you're still learning new things every day."

Lara's achievements are evidence of her tenacious mindset and never-give-up attitude: "I'm not letting other people's opinions affect my day and affect my plan and affect my goals! I don't have to give away the control and change my plans just because I feel a little bit uncomfortable. I can be stronger and break through that."

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