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Rowing to cycling: Ms Bradbury on her sporting success

By James Eggleton and Alasdair McIntosh

Ms Rosamund Bradbury is a Maths teacher at Hampton School. However, she is also, astonishingly, the first – and reigning – a Women’s E-cycling Champion as well as being a near Olympian in rowing.

She established herself in the Olympiad 8 rowing squad with Team GB, narrowly missing out on Olympic qualification. Despite this setback, she took up cycling, and went on to clinch the inaugural title for British Cycling. 

Making sure the balance of teaching and training is in equilibrium must be extremely challenging, so how does Ms Bradbury do it? “To balance the training for E-Cycling with being a Maths teacher,” she tells HSC, “is not actually that difficult compared with rowing; that was one of the main reasons that encouraged me to switch. In rowing, you have to go all the way to the boat house, then get out all the equipment, then get out on the water. 

“Now, I can just go into my garage before and after school 4-5 days a week and train, as well as sometimes on the road.” With E-cycling being a unique sport, Ms Bradbury told us how she would prepare directly for the tournament – it’s a very different experience from riding on the road. “I enter lots of small E-cycling tournaments to get more experience, as well as doing many road races.” 

However, this preparation could have been either her downfall – or the source of her success. “This other girl kept beating me in the road races, so I went in to the competition thinking that she would beat me. I had to change that mindset and also my plan, so I went early. Winning was the best feeling ever!” This perseverance and resilience also helped her bounce back from the end of her rowing career. 

Ms Bradbury helped Team GB to Olympic qualification in 2015, but ultimately missed out on the final crew for the event in Rio: this was one of the biggest lows in career – perhaps the deepest. “It was devastating to have qualified the year before, but not to have been picked for the crew. Heart-wrenching.” This competition for places reflects the brutal nature of elite sport. 

“It is weird because some people consider rowing as the ultimate team sport, but half the year you are competing against the others, training on your own.  Then you get put in a crew with the people you were trying to beat.” The missed Olympics signified the end of the “almost Olympian” – despite saying that representing Team GB was the greatest feeling ever, Ms Bradbury wanted a full-time job, and targeted cycling in her spare time.

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Bradbury (far-right) in rowing action

Having no regrets on making the change. Ms Bradbury discovered E-cycling and it soon became her passion, as she explains. “E-cycling was easy to do logistically as it was more convenient than normal cycling, and I could fit it around teaching.” 

Her motivation for entering the national E-cycling Championship was her love of competing and her competitiveness. However, cycling is a very demanding sport as Bradbury found out. “Every winter you go through a low and you feel really tired and you do think about giving up but you just have to persevere and battle through.”

In summary, Ms Bradbury’s sporting achievements as well as her academic background – she has a degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University – suggest her all-round talents. Her ethics emerge when asked about how she felt about her male counterpart having his title stripped for cheating: “It is shocking,” she comments.  “I can’t imagine myself doing it. Disgraceful!” 

Asked what values are important to her, she says, “Resilience, teamwork and working hard.” 

Bradbury celebrates her national success

Despite the glitz and glamour of her ongoing sporting career, Bradbury has had her fair share of the cruelty of the game, as she reflects: “If given the opportunity, I would have wanted to go into that year – when I missed out on the Olympics – with a different mindset, and I would have worked that little extra bit harder.” 

Whilst reflecting on the past, she says that if she were to give one piece of advice to her younger self it would be to enjoy all the sport you do. That should be recognized by all young sportsmen from someone who has been there and done it. “Cycling is probably my favourite now, but I am still proudest of my rowing career.” 

And so she should be. Very few athletes can boast such prowess in two sports.

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