AT her first elite competition, Erskine cyclist Lusia Steele picked up a silver medal.
Now the 20-year-old has the Paris 2024 Olympics – as part of the first GB three-women sprint team – firmly in her sights.
“That’s the big goal, but there’s a lot happening before that with the next Euros, the Worlds and the Commonwealth Games,” she says. “But to get to the Olympics – and not just to get there, to win the gold medal – is what we’re aiming for.”
Lusia is one of five fantastic finalists in the 2020 Glasgow Times Young Scotswoman of the Year award, in association with St Enoch Centre. Over the next few days, we will be profiling each of the contenders for the title, which will be decided by public vote and revealed on April 29, along with the winner of our Scotswoman of the Year, in a livestreamed event on social media.
“I couldn’t believe it, especially when I saw all the other finalists, who are all so inspiring,” she laughs.
“I still don’t really understand why I’m on the list – their stories are incredible and I’m just riding my bike.”
Far from ‘just riding her bike’, Lusia has become of British cycling’s great hopes for the future, following in the footsteps of her heroes Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker and Laura Kenny. She trains hard at her base in Manchester, coming home to her family – mum and dad Susan and Kenny, sister Alana, 22 and brother Lewis, 17 – when her gruelling schedule allows.
She is also passionate about encouraging young girls to get into cycling, and regularly speaks in schools about the joys and benefits of getting involved in sport at a young age.
“It’s about doing what makes you happy,” she says, simply. “Find a local club and start there – that’s what I did, and I have never had a question in my mind about what I wanted to do.
“There is a lot of pressure on girls to look a certain way, or act a certain way, and I am lucky as I have never really had to face those barriers. But I’d love to see more girls and young women get into cycling, that’s very important to me.”
Lusia started cycling at the age of seven, when her dad and some friends started up the Johnstone Jets for local young people.
“I loved it came through Scottish Cycling’s programmes, and then in 2018 went to the junior Euros and World championships.
“And it took off from there.”
In addition to a punishing training schedule, Lusia is studying for a social care degree through the Open University. After she left school, she did an
“Cycling will always come first but it’s good to have something else too,” she smiles.
In November 2020, Lusia and her team-mates Milly Tanner and Blaine Ridge-Davis took silver medals in the European Championships.
“It was insane,” she says. “Because of Covid, of course, there were no crowds but even seeing it on TV, I just couldn’t believe it.
“I watched people like Elinor and Katie and Laura when I was a kid and there was my name, alongside theirs and it was just incredible.”
Lusia is shortlisted for 2020 Young SWOTY award alongside Amanda Amaeshi, Roseanna Campbell, Katie Pake and Juliana-Sweeney-Baird. To find out more about all the finalists and to register your vote visit www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/young-swoty-2020
Voting will close at 5pm on Friday, April 2.