Laura's going for Gold Coast qualification
A visually impaired student is proving to be an inspiration for Forth Valley Sensory Centre and Forth Valley College, as she pushes to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Laura Cluxton (36), who is studying Braille at the Camelon based Forth Valley Sensory Centre, is one of the world’s best paracyclists - currently number nine – and the number one in Scotland on the road, for 22km and 80km distances.
She is currently training to try to meet the qualifying time of 11.54 seconds for the flying 200m race and 1 minute 10 seconds for the 1km, which will see her able to compete for Scotland in the Gold Coast’s velodrome in April 2018.
Laura, who lives in Tullibody with husband Joe, has less than 5% of her sight and suffers from the degenerative condition retinitis pigmentosa, but this has not stopped her from becoming a world class athlete as well as a valued member of the Forth Valley Sensory Centre board.
Forth Valley College has had a long standing relationship with the Centre and two FVC members of staff deliver classes at Camelon such as Braille and Information Communication Technology (ICT).
Laura has a designated pilot on her tandem and also trains regularly with Joe, a keen cyclist himself. Laura has already competed for Scotland in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and has just returned from a World Cup event in Belgium, which she enjoyed very much.
“Training has been going well and I clocked a 11.59 seconds for the flying 200m, so I am just a hair’s breadth outside the qualification time for the Gold Coast,” said Laura.
“I am just really passionate about cycling. It all started as a hobby when Joe and I started going out together on the bike, but I have been doing it competitively since 2013. It is so exhilarating and it really makes me feel good on so many different levels.
“It is also great to be a user of the Forth Valley Sensory Centre as there are loads of different groups there to get involved with. This is where I made the first steps towards getting my life back and I recommend anyone with any impairments to contact them to find out more about what is on offer. I am now on the board as well and it is a great place for sighted people to get involved in volunteering too.
“It is also great that there is such a strong link with the college and as well as teaching staff delivering courses, we also have beauty students regularly coming along to do nails and give workshops.
“I am really looking forward to the challenge of attaining my qualification time and I hope to achieve this at the Manchester Velodrome in November.”
Scott Harrison FVC Curriculum Manager in Personal and Professional Development and also the manager of FVC’s Sensory Centre’s courses, said: “Our department is extremely proud of Laura’s achievements, both in the classroom and on the cycling track. She does an amazing job of balancing her college attendance and coursework with her training and competitions. We wish her all the best for the Commonwealth Games!”
Jacquie Winning, Forth Valley Sensory Centre, Centre Manager said: “We are all immensely proud of Laura and her achievements and her contribution to the Centre is invaluable. She and her Guide Dog Pixie are well known here and very popular. I am sure I can speak for all our staff and Centre Users when I say we will be willing Laura around that track!”