• ESPN Sports Personality of the Year - No. 10

Laura Trott: Hot wheels

ESPN staff
December 10, 2012
Laura Trott is a two-time Olympic champion at the age of 20 © PA Photos

The past 12 months have thrown up a catalogue of memorable performances, including golden Olympic moments, acts of golfing greatness and more than the odd piece of heroism on a bike. Leading up to Christmas, ESPN will name its top 10 sports personalities of the year in ascending order...

When great sporting achievements are bestowed upon an individual, the temptation can often be to describe those moments as "destiny".

In the case of Laura Trott, who suffers nerve-based sickness before every race, nothing could be further from the truth.

A national treasure after her gold medal double at the London 2012 Games, 20-year-old Trott has the world at her feet - or more accurately at her pedals. Yet it could have been so very different.

Born prematurely, Trott was delivered with a collapsed lung and was soon to be told she had asthma. Hardly the start of an awe-inspiring cyclist's career.

As a solution to the medical issues, sport was recommended as nothing more than an idea to regulate her breathing so, following in the footsteps of her mum and older sister, Trott grabbed hold of a bike.

In 2012, millions of Brits were grateful she did.

Always smiling and with a fun sense of humour, Trott delivered an Olympic performance so special that it could only have been bettered by team-mate Sir Chris Hoy - who collected the sixth gold of his illustrious career to marginally edge out Trott in the Velodrome volume stakes.

The Velodrome, though, will not forget its new star. Already a double world and European champion heading into the Games, Trott launched a dual assault for gold medal glory in the team pursuit and omnium. Her bid captured the imagination of a nation.

The team pursuit came first, and the Brit needed Dani King and Joanna Rowsell to help her out. As a trio they have proved something of a dream team ever since their formation, setting a new world record every time they raced competitively heading into the Olympics.

By the time they reached the final, they had set world leading times on five consecutive rides, and it was no different in the final, posting a mark of 3:14.051. Gold No. 1 in the bag for Trott, but it was time to focus on individual glory.

Two days later she challenged for the women's omnium title, a gruelling event consisting of six disciplines. On day one she won two of the opening three disciplines, but then fell behind rival Sarah Hammer after the 3000m pursuit.

As they headed to the final discipline, the time trial, Trott needed to finish first and hope Hammer managed no better than fourth. The Brit held her side of the bargain, and then watched in disbelief as Hammer finished… fourth.

"I can't believe this has happened to me," Trott said. "I came in feeling not as good as yesterday, because events weren't going the way I wanted them to. But to finish off like that is unbelievable."

Unbelievable indeed, a glorious year for a gifted sportswoman, who once struggled merely to breathe. A double Olympic champion and superb personality, Laura Trott we salute you.

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