'When you've started something, she says, 'it's easy to think: You've got to keep going, keep going, you'll get there, you'll do it. But actually, I've learned, just because you're not good at one thing, doesn't mean you won't be good at something else. You just have to have the courage to make that change.'
And change she did. Lauren Steadman made her triathlon debut in 2011, after years as a competitive swimmer. Since switching disciplines, the 29-year-old athlete has won Paralympic gold and silver medals at Tokyo 2020 and Rio 2016 respectively, as well as a whole host of other medals at world and European championships. So being brave enough to change path has made her career.
'The toughest time in my life was spending four years swimming competitively and not getting any faster, not achieving the results I wanted. And so I had to try something new, to take a chance and get out of my comfort zone. I told myself, the only bad thing that could happen is it won't quite go your way. But you can stand back up again and go again.
'Swimming still holds a special place in my heart. And if I'm ever moody or stroppy, put me in a swimming pool, and I'll soon relax. But I think riding my bike is my absolute favourite now. I enjoy the feeling of going uphill, which not many people say, but I love it. I don't regret the switch to triathlon because I've had a fantastic career and loved each and every race.'
And the switch from swimmer to triathlete isn't the only change that Steadman is making. The Paralympian has spent the last few years, outside of competing, looking for ways to tweak her lifestyle to make it more planet-friendly. 'I like to do as much as I can to give back to the environment and to be sustainable,' she explains, 'And there are things we do in our daily life - even if it's the smallest thing - that can make a massive difference. So I made a pact with myself that I wasn't going to buy clothes this last year, because we all buy clothes that we don't use as much as we should, before probably giving them to charity. The idea of renting clothes is a fantastic concept that more people need to buy into. Some of the clothes are really expensive [for the interview Steadman is wearing a Racil blazer, sourced from rental platform HURR], and you can pop on the rental site, take it to a red carpet, send it back and then somebody else is going to get that same experience and that makes me happy. All of today's make-up was also sustainable and cruelty-free,' she finishes the thought.
'I've been fortunate enough to work with Volvo for just under two years now. And the brand has a lot of values that I like to stand for, one of them being environmentalism. One of their biggest initiatives is by 2030 to be a 100% Electric business. And for me, I think that's fantastic. The electric Volvo C40 Recharge is a super incredible car, down to even the smallest details, such as the 'leather' interiors not actually being cowhide leather. I think when you make a choice like that, you're making a really bold statement. So yes, driving around in electric cars, recycling, renting clothes, sustainable make-up products, not using plastics, all of those things, just being more conscious, for me, is so important. It's not the easiest thing to achieve. But just start somewhere, and then you're on the journey.'
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