Laura Winter pays tribute to her friend Sharon Laws, the Olympic cyclist, who has died
It is hard to find the words to describe what a wonderful soul Sharon Laws was. If you read the scores of tributes to the former British national cycling champion, who lost her battle with cancer last Saturday, the same words jump out at you: Kind. Humble. Selfless. Thoughtful. Caring. Determined. The best team-mate with the most infectious laugh.
She was all of that and so much more.
I did not know Sharon for long, and only really became close to her when she developed cancer and moved back to the Cotswolds for treatment. In that sense cancer brought us together, as friends, riding companions and colleagues, and then it so cruelly took her away again.
I knew of her in the cycling world, reporting on the women’s peloton. We chatted at a few races. But it was not until she was undergoing a brutal course of chemotherapy in February this year, did I spend some quality time with her.
We went for a dog walk. I expected a stroll around the picturesque Cotswolds village she calls home. We walked for four hours up and down hills. My poor dog was exhausted. So was I. As I left, she was about to do 30 minutes of yoga. That was Sharon all over, as I soon learnt.
She was always moving, always smiling. While I was puffing and panting up hills, she would glide alongside me, idly chatting. When we worked together at various cycling events, including the National Championships on the Isle of Man this year, she would have done yoga and was already out on her bike before I’d got up. She always left me a note, though, to let me know where she was off to. She joined our Tuesday Club rides, too. While 100 pacey kilometres were usually enough for me, she would choose to add a “little loop” up a huge hill, before having a five-kilometre swim.
The finish line came far too soon for Sharon. She was only 43. Though she had packed a huge amount into her short life, she had so much more to give. Even in her final 12 months on this planet, she made the most of every second of every day. She was a fighter. She seemed to have an endless source of energy and enthusiasm, which left me and all who knew her in awe.
The former mountain bike, road and time-trial champion truly embraced life and all it threw at her. We could all do with being a bit more like Sharon Laws.
All my love and strength goes to her mother Joy and the family this Christmas.
To read Laura Winter’s interview with Sharon Laws for The Mixed Zone, click HERE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laura Winter is a sports journalist, presenter and event host. She worked in sports communications for the International Rowing Federation for two years, before working and training as a journalist in Gloucestershire, covering a variety of sports including rugby, boxing, football, and triathlon. She then turned freelance at the end of 2014 and is part of the team who founded Voxwomen, a women’s cycling show that seeks to give the female elite peloton the coverage they deserve. Laura’s latest articles.