Mr Nagle by Laura Trott

25th July 2014 at 01:00
Beginning a cycling career before she left school wasn't easy for the double Olympic gold medallist, but a supportive PE teacher helped her through the highs and the lows

I liked all my teachers at Turnford School in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. I liked Mrs Breach, my geography teacher, even though she used to tell me off during every lesson because I would sit at the back of the class laughing. Despite this, I still managed to get my work done.

My mum and dad also went to Turnford School and they were both taught by Mrs Breach. Other members of my family went there, too. My art teacher once asked me: "Are you Nigel Trott's daughter?" and I said: "No, he's my uncle."

But Mr Nagle was by far the best teacher for me. He taught me PE from the age of 11. He encouraged my ambition to become a professional cyclist, unlike some of the others. When I told my RE teacher what I wanted to do, he said: "That's not a job." But Mr Nagle knew you could do cycling as a profession and he used to let me out of PE lessons so that I could train. It was handy that he would let me do that.

As head of PE, Mr Nagle was in control of the department's staff and this made him a role model. He was a really encouraging person and got the best out of me. I didn't like sports such as basketball and football, but for GCSE PE I had to do five sports, one of which had to be a ball game. I chose basketball along with cycling, trampolining, athletics and swimming.

Mr Nagle drew out my strengths in basketball rather than focusing on the aspects that I wasn't good at, and this helped me to enjoy the process. I got two A*s in PE in the end, which was a relief because I was already a professional athlete. If I hadn't got that I wouldn't have been able to live it down with my friends. My other GCSEs were six Bs and a D. The D was in German.

Mr Nagle was about 28 or 30. I always saw him in his sports kit and he was mega-brown, as though he had been on holiday or a sunbed. He was definitely a pin-up and was great with kids, including the naughty ones. He would be the one they turned to because he never argued with them; he was able to sort out issues.

Mr Nagle was assigned to me as a mentor in Year 11 and I had him until I left school at 18. I used to see Mr Nagle every two weeks on a Monday morning for my mentor session. When he started mentoring me I was a 16-year-old competing at a national level and was having really massive highs and really low lows. Mr Nagle couldn't relate, but he knew how I could deal with it. We had a corner in a school playing field where I could vent my anger. I called it my scream corner.

During the London 2012 Olympics I always made sure that I could see my parents. Once I saw my mum waving and Mr Nagle was there next to her. After the Olympics my local council organised a street party and the BBC came. The BBC reporter said to me: "I've got a surprise for you." I was expecting a bunch of flowers but in walked Mr Nagle.

In March this year, after a qualifying race for next year's World Championships, Mr Nagle sent me a text to say well done, so he must have been there. The race was at the Olympic velodrome in East London. I love that track; even driving past it gives me goosebumps.

Mr Nagle became deputy headteacher at Turnford School after I left. I'm not surprised because he was really easy to talk to and always positive. For me, personally, he was more of a friend than a teacher because he was so approachable.

Laura Trott is competing in the Commonwealth Games, which run until 3 August in Glasgow. She was talking to Adeline Iziren

Wheels of fortune

Laura Trott

Born 24 April 1992, Harlow, Essex

Education Turnford School, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

Career Professional cyclist, world champion and double Olympic gold medallist in the team pursuit and the omnium. Appointed OBE in 2013

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