Road To 2012
Interview: Hannah Mayho
Broken bones, but not a broken resolve; that's Hannah Mayho's mantra after being hit by a car, undergoing twelve months of rehabilitation and completing her return to international competition. Luke Webber talks to British Cycling's Olympic Academy rider on an inspirational comeback trail which leads to London 2012.
A lot can change in one year. That's Hannah Mayho's daily reality check before taking on another demanding schedule of training at Manchester velodrome.
For the uninitiated the home of British Cycling is an intimidating environment full of fresh-faced World Champions, legends of the sport and stars of cereal packets. But for those outside the club it's a constant battle to break into an all-star line-up, even tougher knowing - but for an ill fated moment - it could have been you.
A LITTLE HISTORY
One year ago, Hannah Mayho - one of Britain's most talented road and track endurance cyclists - had a life changing experience. Hit by a car while training with her Academy team-mates in Belgium and sustaining a broken leg, arm and wrist Mayho's injuries were by far the worst suffered by the group and required a four month recovery period.
A year on and determined not to be known as "the one from the crash that didn't make it" Mayho has returned to training and competition with a different mindset and is doing everything possible to make the women's team pursuit squad for the Olympic Games.
"But London is a dream; not a reality" Mayho qualifies, before taking a break from eating lunch to talk honestly about cycling's most contested Olympic event.
"It's just over a year to go now and if the team were to be picked tomorrow I wouldn't be selected. But within another year, when I think where I was a year ago and where the girls who won the World Championships were a year ago, I know a lot can happen. If I didn't think it was possible I wouldn't bother, it's all or nothing and I really want to get there, and with every block of training I'm doing I'm improving. And hopefully I can bridge that gap."
Key to Mayho's outlook has been that crash - no matter how uncomfortably it makes her sit - and the effect of a life changing event already passes the acid test, revealed as Hannah makes a passing comment.
"My sister's boyfriend; he said I'm more smiley than I used to be!" she exclaimed, before wishing she was talking to a friend and not a journalist.
"That sounds horrible, but yes, the accident changed me as a person. I think everything happens for a reason. I wouldn't say any of that time was nice, it was horrible. But I can look back and see how it changed me.
"I could tell my character, my personality was revealed and I could see it for myself. I like to be really self-sufficient and relying on others frustrated the hell out of me, but now I think it's normal to ask for help. I can talk about a bad day or my worries as a natural thing to do."
And Mayho can relate such changes back to her fight to realise the Olympic dream.
"I've definitely come through stronger - mentally and physically - I've improved a lot in that period of time and I just have to keep that energy and keep on improving. Because I had a lot of time out from cycling I knew how hard it would be to get back. I had to really, really want to succeed, because it was going to be so hard. I was in a bad way in May 2010 - with the Olympics in August 2012 - if I wanted to get there it was a really big ask and I had to really want it, just switch off from everything else, one big priority and just drive myself forward."
Opening up for the first time, Mayho is relaxed and sincere - two personality traits she accentuates away from the focus of a day job that can be stressful, matched by taking time to enjoy the everyday; like a café stop on an easy road ride and a guilt free slice of cake.
It takes little time to reveal her favourite.
"I'm definitely a chocolate girl at heart, so maybe a chocolate fudge cake - but no cream. I'm not a fan of cream in cakes, so sponge, chocolate fudge in the middle; maybe a few strawberries for your five a day! More sponge on top, then some chocolate fudge icing...maybe a few Smarties on top. A bit like a birthday cake...the more chocolate the better. Right now though I'm off of the cake; it's not good when you're racing."
The cream (or cherry - if that's more your thing) on that cake would have been a medal at the under-23 European Championships. Selected, but missing out on a ride in the Team Pursuit, Mayho instead focussed on the Individual Pursuit and her first competitive outing on the track since winning the event as a Junior in 2009.
Securing a ride for the bronze medal was an indication of Mayho's commitment to return; although she left with the most painful of results - fourth by less than one second.
But nobody said coming back from a career-threatening injury was going to be easy and one year out from London 2012, Hannah Mayho's dream of a racing for Gold at the Olympics must be seen as a reachable one. Because for Hannah Mayho, one year is a long time.