Country: Great Britain
Profession: Athlete -100m
- 2020 National champion
- 2019 World Championships silver medallist (4x100m relay)
- 4th on the UK all-time fastest women’s list
Imani is the Athlete Lead of the British Athletics’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advocates Group. She is also one of ten scholars on the Sky Sports Scholarships program. The program provides athletes with a unique level of support and benefits such as financial aid, both a sporting and business executive mentor, media training, personal development, and work experience.
When did you first realise you wanted to be an Olympic athlete?
I first realised that I wanted to be an Olympian after watching the London 2012 Olympics happen in my hometown. Being a London girl and watching Britain’s best athletes making their nation proud made me want to be a part of that legacy and see how far I could take my talent.
What kind of support should athletes receive when preparing for the Olympics?
A lot of people don’t realise the team effort taken behind many athletes to be one of the best in their country. It can sometimes take a “village” and so it is important that the athlete has the resources and support to assemble a high quality team of coaches, physiotherapists and experts to ensure that they are doing everything that they can to prepare. It is also really important to have a core group of people to provide emotional support when sport gets tough, and for me, that is my family.
Why is it important to promote equality and diversity within athletics?
I am a huge believer in the phrase “if you can see it, you can be it”. It is important that we attract young people from different races, cultures and backgrounds to participate in athletics, because it is a sport that is easily accessible and relevant to so many with untapped potential. It is also important for the culture of organisations in athletics to shift and become more representative of the competing athletes. This means having more diversity in every capacity, from the boardroom to administrative roles, to encourage a more diverse way of thinking and pushing the sport into the future.
#blacklivesmatter is an important issue right now. What do you think high profile athletes like yourself can contribute to the conversation around this issue?
I feel it is my role to keep the conversation going beyond #BLM and to contribute to changing the culture, which in my opinion, is a much more long term goal. It entails transitioning verbal frustrations into actionable goals that can actually be used to make a difference and change some old-fashioned mindsets. I will continue to use my platform to educate and show the younger version of me that anything is possible.
You are studying towards a BA Psychology degree – so many athletes choose not to study when they turn professional, what made you want to pursue a degree?
Education is hugely important to me and my family and is not something that I would take for granted. I love to learn, and university gave me the opportunity to do something completely different to sports to switch my mind off and give my life some texture. My degree in particular fed quite nicely into my athletics career, aiding with the mental side of performance and training. I recently graduated from Kings College London with a BSc and will be looking to complete a Master’s degree after the Olympics!
As a Sky Sports Scholarship recipient you have access to business mentors, work experience and personal development programmes – how do you see this helping you both in your athletics career and one day when you transition out of sport into the business world?
The mentorship program at Sky has been so beneficial to my life in many ways. I have had the opportunity to discuss my future ideas beyond athletics with professionals who are actually in the business world and can provide a perspective that is objective and helpful. It can be a difficult transition from sport into the working world and most of my work with Sky is there to ensure that this process is as smooth as possible. I also hope to work in the media world in the future and the lessons that I have learned in the last few years have been invaluable at Sky.