The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Olympian Lizzie Deignan says trust me, life isn’t all about winning

  • Lizzie Deignan, 32, who lives in Monaco, has competed in three Olympics 
  • A professional cyclist claims it’s selfish to choose this career because you focus on your self.
  • Orla’s mother, Reveals how having Orla as her child has allowed her to see things from a different perspective  

Lizzie Deignan is a professional cyclist who has won silver at the London 2012 Olympics. She was the world, Commonwealth, and national road champion in 2016. With Phil, her racing cyclist partner, she lives with Orla, their three-year old daughter.

I’ve been a professional athlete since I was 18. The pressure is hard when you’re young and you always have to expect more from yourself.

It’s quite a selfish career choice, as you become so focused on yourself. And that’s not healthy — or sustainable. When you make a mistake, it can seem overwhelming. In these moments, I’d think, ‘I haven’t been out for a meal with friends for six months’. You start to wonder if it was worth all the sacrifices.

Lizzie Deignan, 32, (pictured) who lives in Monaco, explained how the birth of her daughter has helped her to get a better perspective of life

Lizzie Deignan, 32, (pictured) who lives in Monaco, explained how the birth of her daughter has helped her to get a better perspective of life

Injury prevented me from being selected to the Beijing Olympics 2008. It was hard but I came out stronger — and got silver at London 2012. But the insane pressure didn’t go away.

So, when I came 7th in the 2014 World Championships — after being the favourite to win — I was devastated.

Shortly after, my husband Phil and I went on holiday, but I couldn’t switch off. Phil (also a professional cyclist) helped me realise I couldn’t keep pushing. Balance was key for me, both mentally and physically.

Orla was our decision to have a daughter. She has given me a new perspective. My body would change in ways I didn’t anticipate. I had to completely let go — after always being in control. It taught me to not worry too much. My career is now a rollercoaster. I enjoy the ride through all of it.

This helped me after Tokyo, which proved to be a disappointing end after five years of buildup. I came 11th in the women’s road race. As I flew home from the race, my thoughts turned to Phil and how hard they had worked for this goal.

However, last month I won the first ever women’s Paris Roubaix, which was an incredible feeling. The progress we’re making in women’s cycling makes the rollercoaster worthwhile.

I’ve learned that you don’t have to be unhappy to be successful. Your career is a part of you, but it’s not your identity.

Lizzie serves as ambassador for Cycleplan (