Hanlie Fouche was a junior cyclist representing her native South Africa when, in her own words, she realised that the pressure of being at the forefront of the sport wasn’t for her.
However, determined that she should pursue a career in the sport that she loved, Hanlie embarked on a path which would eventually lead her to her current role: lead carer with the Great Britain Cycling Team.
“I still wanted to stay involved in the sport, so I volunteered for the Italian team Amore e Vita in 2002. In 2004 I started working for Team Barloworld. I worked with Geraint Thomas and Steve Cummings while there, and I was then approached by British Cycling to look after their academy in 2009.
“In 2010 I moved over to Team Sky, before moving back to British Cycling in April 2011 in the lead-up to the London Olympics – I’ve been with British Cycling since.”
The role of a carer within a cycling team is a varied one; when travelling with the team, carers will be responsible for massages, delivering nutritional plans, providing practical assistance with things such as laundry, first aid and cooking, and ensuring general support for riders and coaches.
In her position as lead carer, Hanlie is charged with working alongside coaches, logistics and support staff to establish programme needs, before deploying carers.
“We are in the process of streamlining our processes in the lead-up to Tokyo to ensure we provide a good carer service across the board, and as such I am responsible for identifying training and development needs, and being a point of contact to our carers on the road.
“The role of lead carer presents me with a whole host of challenges, but they are challenges which I welcome. I have had some incredible experiences while working for the Great Britain Cycling Team and in cycling in general.
“I really enjoy it when our cyclists are happy with their performances, regardless of the result.”
Having raced since the age of 15, Hanlie – whose brother is a Master’s world champion in his age category – still enjoys recreational cycling, and is also nearing the completion of a BSc Physiotherapy degree.
She says that cycling has been a “massive” part of her life, and would encourage other women to pursue different careers within a sporting field.
“I have always chosen to do what I do simply because I enjoy it. I’d encourage women to acknowledge their own strengths, look beyond stereotypes, and choose a career path which they think will fulfil them, whether that is in sport or elsewhere.”