An exclusive interview with the double European and Commonwealth medallist after she announced her retirement
Retiring as a professional athlete is never easy, especially when that decision is essentially taken out of your hands.
You know the day will eventually come but to move on when it’s not on your own terms can be a shock.
Laura Weightman has had to go through those emotions.
After announcing on social media (September 30) that she was retiring from the sport to protect her long-term health, Weightman has opened up to AW about the mental challenges she faced due to a myriad of injuries, looking back on a career that saw her get to two Olympic finals and claim four major medals, plus why she wants to stay in the sport and inspire the next generation.
Now is the time of reflection, embracing the transition and enjoying the process.
In a sense, it’s a welcome period for Weightman after years of anguish where light at the end of the tunnel was followed by set-back.
In a previous interview with AW (March 2023), the 32-year-old revealed the frustrating sequence of events that saw her miss the opportunity to go to her third Olympics, in Tokyo, and the entire 2022 season.
Back in November 2020, Weightman tore her soleus central tendon (calf) and didn’t run again until early January 2021. Ahead of that year’s Olympic trials, she subsequently tore her left hamstring before a lateral Achilles issue followed in August.
Last year, Weightman tore her calf again and was still bugged by a niggling knee issue that had persisted since 2019. A resulting scan of the knee meant surgery was required.
That was last September. Since then Weightman engaged in extensive rehabilitation, from working in the swimming pool and gym to motion exercises like squats and lunges.
She always had the belief that a return to professional running was possible but after receiving recent medical advice, Weightman retired as a professional athlete.
“It’s been an incredibly challenging time and there’s no other way of saying it,” she tells AW. When you have that set determination that you will come back and get that once last chance to race, and to then be told that you’ll never race professionally again, it’s heartbreaking. I’ve been incredibly upset in the fact that I won’t get to do that again.
“If I can run one day for fun, no matter how fast or slow that is, I’ll be happy. The risk that I would’ve taken if I continued…