Recently we had the pleasure of chatting to the incredible BMX pro Ellie Featherstone to find out more about her journey to becoming a pro-athlete and how she kept her focus to succeed.
Have a read to find out more about this super talented 19 year old who has made her dreams come true with hard work and determination to create her very own Legacy.
Ellie, tell us about how you started out and how your journey has progressed?
I had always dreamt about travelling the world since a young age and I have been lucky enough to get these experiences from BMX Racing!
I started riding BMX at my local club in Hartlepool when I was around 6 years old, along with my brother who was 9 at the time. My dad also rode in the 80’s so this is how it all started.
I began racing at regional level across the North of England in places like Leeds, Manchester, Preston and Blackpool.
After a year or two, I then moved onto National level racing which took place all over the UK. It was at this point that I knew that I really loved the sport and couldn’t wait to ride my bike every night after school!
After several years gaining racing experience, I then progressed to a few European competitions and competed in my first World Championships which happened to take place in Birmingham in 2012. Safe to say this was a pretty fantastic experience for my 10 year old self!
In 2014 I was selected to be part of the GB Cycling Team as the youngest Olympic Development Apprentice. After 2 years on the programme I moved onto the Junior Academy Programme and then in 2018, once I turned 16, I began to race in Europe almost every month of the race season.
I was also competing in the UK and despite crashing in 1st place at the European Championships, I didn’t let this get me down. Instead I focused on training hard and put in a lot of hours which got me into the Junior Elite Women category. This was high level racing and now a full time professional career!
At the beginning of this season as a first year junior/elite, I was selected to be part of the UCI World Cycling Centre team which was based in Switzerland. I moved away from home after just turning 17 to train and race as a full time athlete which was just incredible!
This was a fantastic opportunity for me to ride alongside some higher level athletes who had competed in previous Olympic Games, as well as in the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Games.
Finally I had the chance to compete across the world and spent 6 weeks training and racing in Australia in 2020 which has been one of my best memories to date!
Over the previous years of racing, some of my best results include 2 x British Champion, World Number 5 in 16 girls in Rockhill, USA, winner of the 2018 European Cup in Verona, Italy and a bronze medal at the 2019 European Championships as a first year Junior Elite.
Alongside racing, I love to spend time at the local club helping the younger generation learn the basics of BMX or help them to improve their overall bike skills and hopefully pass my knowledge and enthusiasm onto them!
This is such an amazing story Ellie, how did you manage to keep your focus to succeed?
I always have goals, result and performance aims in my head - whether it’s off-season or race season - so this helps me to perform at my best. I know that if I put in the work day in and day out it pays off in the end - my results have shown this to be the case! Plus I always try to be better than yesterday!
Some things have become easier as I get older - I’ve always had quite a good technical skill level but when I was younger I struggled on the strength side of things. As I got older and stronger I’ve been able to combine this to make me a better rider.
I’m also really driven by wanting to make a difference to girls sport and to inspire the younger generation which I really hope I do.
What advice would you give to someone, particularly the girls you want to inspire, trying to make it as a pro athlete?
I would say that the main thing for someone to succeed as a professional athlete is to gain as much experience, whether it be training in different locations or racing/competing at high levels with as many different opponents as possible. The more you get used to doing the same thing day in day out, the more it feels more normal when it comes to a competition.
I would also say that mental preparation is just as important as the physical level too. The more you put into training and preparation away from competition, the more you feel prepared when it comes to competition day. Trust and enjoy the process!
Thanks so much @elliefeatherstone_ what an incredible inspiration you are!
Words by Sarah Miller @theconsciouslifestylist