Lockdown was hard for a lot of people to stay fit and active. How did you stay in good condition? Did you manage to find any gym equipment? What did your training schedule look like during the week?
Absolutely, lockdown has been tough on a lot of people in many ways, and inevitably the motivation to stay active probably hasn’t been quite the same. I know for me, at the start of the lockdown I found it really hard to persist with training when there wasn’t an immediate ‘goal’ in sight, as we didn’t know back then if there even would be a track season. However, I was super fortunate that my local rugby club supported me with a lot of weights and equipment after I reached out to the local community on social media asking if anyone could help out! It was a god send really. I also live on a farm, so the tractor became the new squat rack, and together with the loaned weights I had a pretty handy home gym to see me through until facilities re-opened! A typical week for me was a mixture of strength and conditioning at home, and then I tried to replicate my ‘track’ sessions 4 times a week at an industrial park nearby (death by hill sprints) and the local cricket pitch which was nice and flat for speed work! Just a case of adapting I guess!
400m Hurdles is arguably one of the hardest track events. Have you always competed in that event, what was your drive behind it?
I’d have to agree with you there – even if I am a little biased! The 400m hurdles is tough, and as a result I guess it’s an event a lot of people tend to ‘fall into’ rather than choose as their primary discipline. Personally, I was never explosive or powerful enough for the shorter sprints like the hotly contended 100m, but what I did have was a really good aerobic base, and as a kid was pretty fearless over the barriers. So, after trying a few events and competing in the heptathlon for a while, my grassroots coach noticed I was strongest over the 800m and had a pretty good sprint hurdles, so he suggested I combined the two and give the 400 Hurdles a go. In my first season I broke the Welsh Junior record, and never looked back since!
Has COVID 19 effected your goals going forward. If so, what has changed?
To be honest, no. The goal for me over the past 2 years or so has been to go to the 2022 home Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and that hasn’t changed. Obviously we’ve had to make some readjustments in terms of goals in training in light of the pandemic, and this season for example the primary aim was just to stay in one piece and get some solid races in where the opportunity allowed, as we knew it wasn’t going to be a ‘big’ year for me. That being said, I’m still very hopeful the games will go ahead, and I still have my eyes set on being on that start line in the red vest of Wales!
You have recently competed at the British Championships, being placed 5th. How did you feel post race? Did you achieve what you set out?
British Champs was a bit of a mixed bag for me. Initially, my coach and I chatted and decided a reasonable aim would be to make the final as the last couple of years I’ve just missed out on a lane by a hundredth of a second or so. Then as it happened, I surprised myself by running 58s again two weeks before the champs, which ranked me 6th in the UK going into the competition. That’s when, if truth be told, I told myself I had an outside shot at a medal, so to place 5th and not to run near the times I had been, was a bit tough to swallow. Upon reflection though, I am proud of making my first British champs final in what has been a tricky year for us all as athletes.
While studying at University of Bath, how do you manage to balance your academics with training? Did you find this hard at first?
I get this question quite a lot, but I always say, ‘everyone is busy to their own level’. What I mean by that is that although there are only 24 hours in a day, I think if you’re smart about it and manage your own time well, then you can squeeze in as much or as little as you like and accomplish what you set out to. It’s just a case of being organised. For example, I know that I need to submit pieces of coursework earlier in the semester, rather than wait until the deadline in April, where I am likely to be racing or away on a training camp. It was a hard adjustment to make at first, the need for pre planning and being efficient with your time, but you just develop a routine after a while I guess! I’ve also been fortunate that Uni have been very supportive, and the dual career programme at Bath has made such a massive difference to me being able to study the degree I want alongside my sporting endeavours.
In 2 years from now, where do you want to see yourself? Do you have any goals lined up?
2 years from now I hope that I will have had the honour to wear my countries colours at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022. Outside of the sport, I hope that I will be a University of Bath Graduate with a BSc hons in Management. More than that, I hope to still be happy and healthy!
This interview was conducted by Tom Pittman, Athlete Manager at The S Word.