Having won four Olympic gold medals, including two at the Rio 2016 Games, Laura Trott is officially the most successful female Olympian in British history.
Now, the 24-year-old cyclist wants to use her platform to inspire teenage girls to stay in sport.
She’s supporting the Always #LikeAGirl campaign, which recently commissioned research revealing more than half (64%) of girls quit sport by the time they end puberty.
“When you’re going through your period and your body is changing, everything feels different and kind of scary,” Trott tells The Huffington Post UK.
“So many people [at my school] used to get notes in PE lessons to say they didn’t want to do it and I think that pushes girls out - they feel they don’t belong any more.
“Boys don’t go through that, it’s all rough and tumble and it doesn’t matter.”
Trott’s own journey to becoming an Olympic champion hasn’t been easy.
She was born with a collapsed lung and suffers from asthma as a result. She’s also sick after most races due to problems regulating the acid in her stomach.
On top of all that, as a teenager growing up in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, Trott had to contend with the fact that being passionate about sport wasn’t “the done thing”.
“At school people used to take the mick because it wasn’t cool,” she says.
“I never played out or anything after school because I’d be off cycling.
“There were parties I couldn’t go to, I’d come back to school and everyone would be speaking about it and I guess that’s one reason why girls give up on sport. You feel lonely almost because of it.”
Trott says it was the constant support of her parents that enabled her to develop an “I don’t care what you think” mentality.
Watching her mum, Glenda, lose eight-and-a-half stone in a year also taught her to “never give up”.
“I was quite young at the time, but seeing someone go through that and going through the ups and downs was inspirational. It’s something that’s stuck with me throughout my life,” she says.
But Trott is aware not everyone has a family as supportive as hers. She’d like sport to become the norm for girls, so the next generation aren’t afraid to follow their dreams.
According to Trott, the key to increasing participation figures is getting girls engaged in sport at a young age, then focussing on “improving their confidence” to keep them from quitting as teenagers.
She adds that girls need more visible role models in order to feel that sport is an option open to them.
While she feels media coverage of track cycling is equal between men and women, she says it’s not the same for female friends who compete in road cycling.
“I know that it grates on them that it’s not as well covered as the men,” she says.
However, she points out that slowly but surely, sport is becoming a more gender equal field.
“It is getting there. Women in sport is massive now,” she says.
“You’ve got people like Jessica Ennis Hill who has shoved it in the media and she’s now idealised by both men and women.
“If we can get more role models, which obviously starts by getting girls into sport from a young age, then that’s the way it will continue to push women in sport forward.”