Irish cycling star Orla Walsh has told Eurosport about her incredible journey from "going out every night" to competing at the Track Champions League.
The 33-year-old was competing in the second round of the exciting track cycling event in Berlin when she spent some time speaking with Eurosport's Steffi Thomas about her unique career so far.
For Walsh, her cycling journey began in March 2016 with the desire to be active, have freedom on her bike and be part of a thriving community of like-minded recreational riders. From there, she has excelled and become a top racer.
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"I was not sporty at all in my 20s, I gave up a lot of sports when I was in my teenage years," Walsh told Eurosport, who has documented her change of lifestyle on Instagram.
"I quit everything when I was 13 or 14. I got into smoking cigarettes and drinking in fields as a lot of youths will do. I didn't pick up any sport again until my late-20s. I partied pretty hard in my 20s!
"This is a funny story, actually. I was in Berlin probably when I was around 22 and I was drinking on top of this velodrome! I didn't know what it was, but there is a picture of me and my friends drinking beer on top of this. We were sitting on the steps above it and I remember thinking this was a really weird building, not knowing that a few years later I would be racing at a World Cup at it. So a lot has changed over the last few years!
"I was getting to the point in my life when I didn't want to keep going out every night and keep feeling crap all the time. Obviously, I was coming into my later 20s so I wasn't recovering from the nights out as much as I used to. So it just kind of happened organically.
"I really fell in love with the bike and the freedom it gave me. I hated relying on public transport and I hated having to drive to work because the traffic was shocking in Dublin.
"So just that sense of being able to get on my bike and get into the office, to the college in a few minutes and not relying on anyone else, I loved that.
"It was a freeing experience, and then it just evolved from there, getting into club cycling and finding a community within the local clubs. Racing was never really on my agenda, it just kind of happened that way. People were telling me I was fast."
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Asked for her advice for people who also find themselves in a rut with their lifestyle, Walsh shared some thoughts when reflecting back on her change of focus from her 20s.
"I would say to just go out and try new things," she said.
"I never thought I was a sporty type and a lot of the other athletes have come from other sports and been competitive all of their lives.
"Just go out and try things and people will help you along the way. The people in my club were really supportive.
"I struggled with not feeling as though I belonged in sport, that impostor syndrome, and I still get it sometimes even now that I'm against Olympic champions and world champions.
"I am pinching myself and thinking 'am I supposed to be here?' But you just have to go out and try things and believe in yourself. You can be whoever you want to be.
"I have been really trying to practise being in the moment and just enjoying the experience as it is and trying to focus. Because a lot of that comes from worrying about what people think, so trying not to think about that at all and just trying to enjoy the experience and the moment, the people you are with, and trying to bring it all back to the centre.
"That is how I try to overcome any of those daunting feelings or feelings of fear and insecurity, to just be present and believe in yourself and to know that the work you have put in is going to come through."
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After a great debut season, the UCI Track Champions League is back for season two, with Laura Kenny joining the party. You can watch it all live and on demand on discovery+. We also have extensive coverage across eurosport.com.
For more on Orla Walsh's inspiring story, check out the 'Cycling Changed my LIfe' feature on GCN+
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