Q&A WITH… SOPHIE MCKINNA

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Profession: Athlete- Shot Put

Country: Great Britain

  • 2020 British champion
  • 2020 British Indoor Athletics Championships – silver medallist
  • 2019 British indoor and outdoor champion
  • 2019 World Championships finalist
  • 2018 Commonwealth Games finalist
  • 2013 European Junior Champs- silver medallist
  • 2011 World Youth Championships- silver medallist

We find it so interesting that you have chosen not to be a full time-athlete while still pursuing your Olympic dream. Can you tell us why it is important for you to work outside of athletics?

I chose to still work whilst competing and training because I think it’s really important to have other interests outside of sport. I have been a full time athlete in the past and struggled to let go of a bad session or performance but when you have a job to go to you can’t do that!

Interestingly, due to the nature of my job I haven’t actually been working during the Covid pandemic, but I will be returning once things get a bit better. In the meanwhile, I have volunteered at my local animal shelter to keep myself busy.

For those of us that don’t know much about shotput – what is the most technical part of throwing?

For me throwing is such a complex movement I couldn’t single out a particular part of the throw. It’s taken me over ten years to get to where I am now, and I still haven’t perfected my technique! Not only do you have to be efficient when throwing but from an early age you have to learn how to weight lift correctly too. There are many elements to get right!

In 2019 you become the first British woman to make a World Championships shotput final in 36 years becoming a role model to the next generation – so who were your role models when you were growing up and why?

My biggest role model when I was growing up was, and in a lot of ways still is, my grandad. He played professional football for Norwich city and was also a manager at the club. He has always supported me through my training and competition and I have been able to learn lots of valuable lessons from him. He still comes to every training session with me now!

You recently featured on the Telegraph, talking about body image and the myths about field athletes. What advice would you give to young girls who battle with body image and maybe don’t want to do sport for fear of not being feminine?

My advice is to always be content and comfortable with who you are. From a young age I played sport, but was picked on a lot because it wasn’t seen to be the thing that girls should do. But I loved sport so much that I didn’t care what anyone else thought!

I think for me, my love of my event has always overridden any worries I may have about body image and what people think of me. To be the best you have to have a very singular mindset and not be deterred by any outside noise.

We have seen someone make a few appearances on your social media: your pet dog Athel 😊. Why did you decide to adopt a dog?

I have a cocker spaniel named Reggie who I’ve had from a pup and Athel is our new addition! I absolutely love animals (I also have a tortoise named Hercules), especially dogs, so when the opportunity to adopt Athel came up I couldn’t resist. He’s fitted in just perfectly and loves coming to watch me train and ‘help’ collect the cones at the end of each session!!!

What is your favourite place to visit when you are not working or competing?

My favourite place to visit has to be the beach. I’m very lucky to live right next to the beach and I walk the dogs there every day right through the year. As I live in Norfolk we are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to great countryside. Another one of my favourite things to do is take my kayak out onto the broads.

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