What is the goal of a competitor? Is it the experience of battle; pushing yourself to outdo all others? Is it the prize? Could it be the potential for greater recognition as an athlete? How about the desire to succeed for all the people who helped you to get to this place? For the Spanish sisters Layla and Lucy Fraser, their motivation was a fusion of all of the above. Layla Fraser spoke to us on her way back from winning the first medal for Spain during the Jr Europeans in Le Mans alongside her sister lunged by their mother.
The foundation for a successful career in any sport is laid by a strong support system, without which the machine could not run. Born to (in Mallorca, Spain) and trained by a German mother who vaulted in her homeland, Layla and Lucy grew up in the club founded by their family. Their mother is still their coach today. “Our mother has given a lot to us and to vaulting in Spain in general,” Layla says. “She was always there to support us through the many hours of training in the heat, but our club Hipico La Bubia is also very important for us. They support us wherever they can.”
The girls mention many role models within the sport as well. “All vaulters are role models for us, but Daniel Kaiser and Simone Jäiser are huge role models because they’re big fighters and they never give up. Also, Joanne and Hannah Eccles, because they’re sisters like us. There are so many we see as role models.”
Two of the athletes mentioned above played an integral role in the Le Mans fairy-tale. “We only managed to get to Le Mans because we Simone Jäiser’s club and her horses gave us a huge help in our qualification for the European Championships at the CVI Bern in both individual and doubles. After achieving the qualification, we started wondering if it would be possible to take our horses with us; the horses were fit and we knew we could trust them and that it would be an unforgettable experience with them.”
So it was meant to be. The whole Fraser family boarded a ferry with their two horses. After eight hours aboard, a stop in Barcelona and 13 hours on the road, they arrived in Le Mans. Having already done a NASA theme on the barrel, they tweaked it to fit the emotions and moments of Le Mans. Layla reflects on the preparation: “With Daniel Kaiser’s great help, we were able to match the music perfectly to our freestyle. I remember how many times we laughed when ‘Lucy… we have a problem’ played in the music. This was actually Daniel’s voice saying ‘one small step for Spain,’ which fits really well because it’s a small step for Spain but a very big leap for our history. As for the ‘The Frasers have arrived at their destination’ line, my sister Lucy said that it was our dream competing in Le Mans.”
In a country where vaulting is relatively undeveloped, aside of course from Ararat Martin Ruiz and his team, the silver medal is a tremendous accomplishment and a testament to what Spain will offer to the vaulting world. “[W]e have about 30 kids who vault in our club, and that’s the largest number of all Spanish clubs,” Layla explains. She remarks that there aren’t many vaulters in Spain, but that each year the crop grows a bit more. “At the moment we have a lot at the youth level, but not so many vaulters in the higher levels.” The progress has already been seen with their Spanish senior squad in 2015 (the Fraser sisters were part of it).
With so many talented young vaulters joining the Spanish vaulting scene, the prospects for this country are very promising. For now, the Frasers are enjoying having made history for their country. “We never expected a medal; it still hasn’t sunken in and we still feel like it’s all a dream… this is the first medal in Spanish vaulting history.”
The Fraser family at their home in Mallorca:
The second freesytle at the European championships 2016: