Olympic champion and Voxwomen blogger Dani Rowe has today announced her retirement from professional cycling.
After a stellar 2018, which saw the 28-year-old win Commonwealth Games bronze in the road race, finish second at the Tour de Yorkshire and third at the Women’s Tour, Rowe is choosing to go out on top.
She told Voxwomen: “I am lucky to go out on a high, not forced to by injury or illness. Not many can do that and I feel very privileged to go out on my own terms.
“The Commonwealth bronze was the last big medal I hadn’t won, and the icing on the cake of a great career. I had a really good season on the road but at the same time I had to weigh up what I would carry on for. Would winning Women’s Tour make me happier than a really unexpected, and hard-fought third place? No, it wouldn’t.
“In my time I have seen women’s cycling change massively, from when I was first riding on Nicole Cooke’s team Vision One in 2009. I have been in it at the best time, with the most significant changes happening. There is still a long way to go, and I will doing all I can to help that keep growing, but at the same time it is really important to look how far it has come.
“It would have been an easier decision to carry on, but this sport is too hard. I’ve had it in mind for the last couple of months and it is has really hit me now. In October and November everyone was enjoying the off-season, so it was like nothing had changed. Although I know it’s the best thing for me, telling people has made me really emotional. I love this sport and will very much stay involved in it. I am really excited for the next chapter.”
Initially a swimmer, Rowe first started cycling after skipping a maths lesson and taking a British Cycling talent ID test in 2004, which saw her join the talent team . Her father is a two-time Winter Olympian, and so it was her dream from when she was a young girl to become Olympic and world champion, no matter the sport.
Within seven years she was to become three-times world champion and Olympic champion on home soil at London 2012 in the team pursuit alongside Laura Kenny and Jo Rowsell-Shand.
But Rowe’s path to the very top of our sport was far from straightforward. And it is as much the lows as it is the highs that the Waowdeals Pro Cycling rider looks back on with pride.
She told us with tears in her eyes: “The amazing thing about my story is, it wasn’t just plain sailing. There were so many ups and downs, yet I had that resilience, to keep going and ultimately wanted to achieve more in this sport. Twice I was told by British Cycling I wasn’t good enough and failed to make the academy. In 2009 I had glandular fever and was training three times a day to get back into the squad, before becoming Olympic champion and three-time world champion in London 2012. That is something I will treasure forever.
“Then not making the team for Rio 2016 on the road, to having the season I did this year, it makes it all so much sweeter to me. The success means so much more, having overcome hurdles during an incredible journey.”
So what’s next? Rowe has exciting plans on the horizon she aims to announce in the new year, while long-term, extending her family with husband Matt Rowe is definitely on the cards.
“When I Facetimed Laura (Kenny) to tell her, she thought I was pregnant!” Rowe laughed. “I’d love to have a family but not just yet. I have dedicated my whole life to a bike, and I know if I was lucky enough to get pregnant, I would dedicate my life to that child. For now, I am going to be there for friends, family and Matt and have a bit of time pre-babies!
“I will be involved more full-time with my coaching company Rowe & King and am looking at all opportunities. It’s a novelty to be able to say yes more often and have the time.”
Dani Rowe press release
Today marks both the end of one chapter in my career, and the start of a new one. As from today I’m announcing my retirement from professional cycling.
Skipping a maths lesson at school in 2004 when British Cycling visited ultimately led me to achieving my childhood dream of becoming World and Olympic champion. After 14 years of dedicating my life to a bike I’ve decided to go out on a high after the satisfaction of achieving everything & more in the sport that I ever set out to.
To have been multiple National champion, multiple European champion, Commonwealth Games medallist, 3 times World Champion, and have won Olympic Gold in my home country, is more than I could have ever dreamed of. I feel privileged to be able to finish my professional cycling career on my own terms & in a great place mentally with the sport. I’m an achiever & I’m driven through hitting and improving on targets I set myself. After winning a medal in the Commonwealth Games I have won a major medal in all that I can in cycling & it’s now time to enter the next chapter of my life.
I feel that it would have been an easier decision to carry on cycling, as it’s something that’s defined me since the age of 14. It’s a scary world outside of professional sport but one I’m willing to jump into with open arms taking opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to when cycling.
Cycling has enriched my life in so many ways, and given me the highest of highs and also plenty of lows that have shaped me into the person I am today, and I will always be so thankful for that. I’ve met my closest friends and my husband through the sport. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been on this amazing journey with me, but especially my parents, sister Sarah, and husband Matt who have provided the most amazing support.
I’ve already got exciting plans in place for 2019, including how I remain in this amazing sport, and I look forward to sharing this with you in the New Year.