Sugar hoping for sweet success in Rio

Laura Sugar sprints for the line

The Rio 2016 Paralympics begin today and despite hockey not featuring as a sport, we will be watching the efforts of the Great Britain team with great interest, in particular the fortunes of Laura Sugar. She is a former Wales Hockey international who has turned her hand to sprinting and will go for GB in the T44 classification.

At the beginning of 2016 Sugar took the decision to give up playing internationally for Wales to focus on her sprinting.

“I had to make a choice from playing for Wales in the Europeans in 2016 or competing for Great Britain at the Worlds Para Championships, so I put hockey to one side and decided to concentrate on my sprinting.”

She came fourth in the world then went on to win bronze in the 100m and 200m at the Europeans a year later.

Laura was born with her foot back to front, they corrected this when she was young but has very little ankle movement and no calf muscle.

Laura Sugar in hockey action

“The doctor actually said to my parents that I wouldn’t be a professional athlete. It was the best thing my parents did not telling me about my condition when I was younger and letting play as much sport as I wanted, I think that has helped get to where I am today.”

It was off the back of London 2012 that she went along to a talent identification day;

“It only clicked I could be eligible to compete after seeing discus thrower Dan Greaves in London 2012 and noticed he had the same condition as me. It is crazy to think four years ago I was at a summer kids’ camp moulding athletes out of clay and trying to encourage kids to get into sport and now I am off to Rio.”

Laura began playing hockey at Newport Grammar school in year 8 where she played most sports but preferred hockey. She went on to play for Cambridgeshire and East of England where she was invited to Welsh trials as her father’s side of the family are Welsh.

“I made it to the school games to compete for Wales and I just moved up the ranks from there.”

“With hockey it just clicked. I love the camaraderie that you get when you play hockey. It was the sport I understood best, from the skills, tactics and team work; it has the best of everything. My closest friends have all come from playing hockey, from school to playing at university; it is the most sociable sport.”

She is now off to Rio and aiming to run the quickest time she can and she believes that playing international hockey will help her achieve a successful performance in Rio. “I always played my best when we played on a big stage for Wales so I am hoping to do the same out in Rio!”

We want to wish Laura and the rest of the GB athletes the best of luck in Rio!