Age: A week in my life - Lily van den Broecke MBE, gold medallist

Age: A week in my life - Lily van den Broecke MBE, gold medallist

For our final posts of age month, we've decided to do something a bit different. We've asked two bright young things to show us a week in their life – because although we've seen the public side of their successes, we want to know what goes on behind the scenes. How do they push themselves forward? What do they do in their time out? Are they different from other people of the same age? Today, we're hearing from Lily van den Broecke MBE, a reigning world champion cox after winning gold at the 2012 Paralympics. But as her photo diary shows, it's not all early mornings on the water...

In 2012 I won a Gold medal at the Paralympic Games, aged 20. Now 22, I am in my final year at Durham University where I study Politics, Philosophy and Economics. I also continue to train with the Boat Club here with a view to making it to the Olympics in 2016.

Winning in London changed my life and when I went back to university, things did feel different. Fellow students admire me for what I achieved but actually I am in constant awe of them, for their intellect, kindness and drive to succeed. On a public stage I am a successful young woman but in the private realm I strive to be a better friend and a more hardworking student, and to grow into person my parents would be proud of.

Monday: Most of my mornings start with coxing a rowing boat either in Durham or on the Tyne in Newcastle. It was raining heavily this session, but wrapped up warm and in the company of my friends and crewmates – the rain didn’t do too much damage this time!

Tuesday: It is such a privilege to be in tertiary education. But I’m all too quick to forget that when working on my degree, especially after training. I never liked coffee before university… now I drink it by the gallon!

Wednesday: Sometimes it’s like I’m living a double life. Often I’m invited to events or occasions where I speak or make an appearance. On this occasion I was posing for photographs for sponsorship purposes – something that’s incredibly important for any athlete and that I will have to take more seriously after I leave university.

Thursday: I love my friends. Here we are enjoying supper outside in our backyard. Plenty of wine bottles on the table but on this occasion I wasn’t drinking due to a very early start on the water the next day!

Friday: Social media and technology have played a huge part in the construction of our generation. Sometimes I find it overwhelming and worry about the effect of it on the young. But it has its perks; here I am on my iPhone with Papa speaking to my best friend Flora who is at university in Glasgow.

Thank you so much to Lily for taking part! You can stay in touch with her on Twitter: @LilyJvdBroecke. Check back tomorrow to hear from Ruth Amos, who runs no fewer than three companies at the tender age of 24.


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