From the Carmarthenshire countryside to Australia - farmer's daughter cycles for Wales at Commonwealth Games

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If you have been around the Carmarthenshire countryside lately, you may have unknowingly crossed paths with team GB cyclist Manon Lloyd, who is representing Wales at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Her parents, Farmers’ Union of Wales members Ian and Helen Lloyd, have been farming at Torcoed Fawr, Crwbin, Kidwelly since 2003 and the family have been here since 1919.

Their daughter however had other ideas for her future. Her passion and dedication to cycling means that the 21-year-old is representing Wales on both the track events and the road race on the Gold Coast.

I was so relieved and happy when I got told I was on the team. I am proud to be Welsh and the opportunity to represent Wales only comes around every 4 years, and it being my first games I am really excited,” she said.

Dad Ian is proud of his daughter and is looking forward to see her race for Wales: “We normally have about 120-150 ewes but we have cut back drastically this year so we can watch Manon race. It is a tremendous achievement for her and we couldn’t be more proud.” 

Manon spends the majority of her time training in Manchester or racing abroad but comes home whenever she can and helps out with lambing and feeding the animals. But how has she been preparing herself for the challenge ahead?

“I’m based in Manchester with the GB cycling team but I’ve been coming home often recently and I’ve been training locally on the Carmarthenshire roads. It’s good training for me as its very hilly around here.

“I have also recently come back from some warm weather training in Portugal, the last training block of my Commonwealth Games prep. I usually do a road ride in the morning round 2-3 hours and then in the afternoon it is a harder session either on the velodrome, turbo or gym. I get a rest day ( complete day off training ) once a fortnight, which I like to spend by being a couch potato,” she said.

Manon started cycling when she was around 14, and it all started for her at the Carmarthen Velodrome.

“I have always been into sports from a young age starting with swimming and running. I wanted to try triathlons so I thought it would be a good idea to join my local cycling club, Towy riders. I went along and enjoyed it  so much I finished the swimming and running and just focused on cycling.

“I started my cycling career pretty late compared to most the other girls on the GB cycling team. Now I train every day and most days twice a day. And when I’m home I love getting the chance to go back and train on the local Velodrome track there,” she said. 

Food is of course an important aspect for any athlete, so what does a team GB rider take into consideration when it comes to fuelling up?

“I have to watch what I eat a lot. Not only to control my weight but I need to eat the right foods to get the right vitamins, proteins, fats and carbs. On a training day with more gym work I would need to consume more protein than on a day day where I didn’t have a weights session. I get most of my protein from lean meats such as chicken and turkey, but I also eat a lot of steak as a good iron source,” she said. 

And what about pre-race nerves - how does Manon deal with them? 

“I get nervous for every race I do, and I expect I will be even more nervous for the games. I try not to think about how nervous I am until about a day before. I’ve learnt that its ok to be nervous it's normal, I just need to allow time for myself to be nervous and then control them.

“The biggest challenge however will be training against my GB team mates, representing England and Scotland. I spend so much of my time being teammates with them it will be strange racing against them,” added Manon.

Wishing Manon all the best of luck at the Commonwealth Games, was FUW President Glyn Roberts. Speaking from his farm in North Wales he said: “We all have our fingers crossed for Manon. Seeing our young people out there achieving great things is fantastic and we wish her and the rest of the Wales team the very best of luck.”

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