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Reporter Mark Lewis writes about Vicky Harmiston, who has had a successful career as a track cyclist — a cyclist who races on special race tracks.
When Vicky Harmiston was a child, her parents gave her and her brother Jamie the freedom to decide what they did in their spare time. Vicky chose to do lots of different sports. She was a good swimmer, and the coach at the swimming club she went to thought she might be good enough to become a champion. But the club was a long way from her home so it was difficult for her to fit in the training around her schoolwork. When they were teenagers, Jamie, who loved cycling, bought himself a special track-racing bike and started taking part in competitions. Vicky thought it looked very exciting and decided to try it for herself. She says that was the best decision she ever made. Soon she was cycling every day and doing really well. The track was near her school, which meant it was no problem for her to attend training sessions after school every day.
Vicky went on to have a successful career in track cycling and won several competitions. Then, when she was 28, she retired from competitive cycling. Vicky told me: 'For years I'd loved winning competitions but I began to get a bit tired of the whole thing — and when the excitement stops, there's no point. Luckily, I went on to have a new career.'
Vicky got a job with a charity called CycleZone. 'We work with young people who have never enjoyed sport,' she says. 'The first thing we do is teach them to ride a bike. We want them to learn to believe in themselves and their own abilities. CycleZone does a great job, and it gets young people together so they're part of a wider group.'
The charity uses celebrities to advertise the work they do. Vicky says, 'I know some people aren't sure whether the support of a celebrity is always positive for a charity. They say the celebrities are only doing it to push themselves forward, which prevents the public from seeing the real work of the charity. But if famous singers and actors, for example, can help, I think they should.