Profession: Athlete – 200m
- 2021 Olympian
- 2018 Athletics World Cup – 3rd
- 2018 European Championships – 7th
- 2018 British champion
- Scottish record – 22.50s
Congratulations on your Olympic debut! What were your thoughts as you stood at the starting blocks at the Olympics?
It was surreal! I was hit by the fact that there were no spectators because I almost forgot there wasn’t going to be any spectators. When I stood at the starting blocks, I just remember thinking that like nothing could ruin this moment. Especially because of COVID, we had so many doubts that the Olympics were going to go ahead. I just remember feeling so grateful that the Olympics actually happened. It would have been nice to have some spectators there but actually nothing could ruin this moment because for it actually to go ahead it was just pure relief and I just felt so grateful.
What has been the most defining moment in your career so far?
I think my most defining moment was back in 2018. At the time I was a receptionist and was working 40 hours a week. I went to the British champs, and I came away with a gold medal, I won and became British champion. I remember at that time my life changed; I went from just being a receptionist that no one had heard about to beating all the girls that were kind of paid to do this. That then qualified me for the European Championships, and I just got a lot of like opportunities following that. I got an opportunity to run in the Olympic Stadium and represent Great Britain and then go to the European Championships and then I got selected for funding. If it wasn’t for that race my story might have been slightly different but winning that race gave me the confidence that I’m a champion and and there’s not many times in our career that we can say that.
So many athletes choose not to study when they turn professional, what made you decide to pursue a degree in psychology?
Yes, I got my psychology degree. So, when I was at college I didn’t know what I wanted to do and a lot of my friends were going to university so I just thought “oh I’ll go to university too”. Loughborough University where I studied is really well-known sports, so I thought I want to go there. I’m a big believer that sport can’t take up your whole life. I remember someone said to me, “you could break your leg tomorrow and you always need something to fall back on”. It sounds so dramatic but it’s really really true and and that’s always kind of stuck in the back of my mind. It most likely won’t happen but anyone could sustain an injury at any point in their career just because of what we do and what we put our bodies through. I was always very passionate about having an education and a degree, and at school psychology was my favorite subject so that just seems like the best one to pursue. I was also good in physical education at school, but I wanted a subject that was a bit of a break from sport and athletics and was a bit of a different path. More especially now as an elite athlete the psychology side of it is so important so I actually use my psychology degree a lot to help myself in terms of my athletics and keeping mentally strong.
What is the strangest (or most interesting) thing that has happened to you in your travels around the world?
It was quite an unfortunate situation in 2018, before my first race of the season. I was just about to board the plane and my hand luggage got taken off me because there wasn’t enough room to put some of the hand luggage bags on, so they had to check it in. I was trying to fight for my case saying, “No no I need it ‘cause my spikes are in there” and he said, “No we need to take it and there’s not long left aboard so get yourself on that plane”. They took my bag off me and I got on the plane and my bag didn’t arrive. I was quite young and inexperienced at the time, so I didn’t write any of my details on my bag. It had everything that i needed, so I didn’t have any clean clothes or toiletries.
I remember crying on the phone to my mom. The lady that picked me up from the airport was literally the loveliest woman ever and she took me to her family home to get some spare clothes and toiletries. They took me to the track the next day to see if I could find spare spikes. I ended up running with spikes I borrowed from a boy at the track, they were slightly bigger. I’m still in touch with the two women that looked after me, and to this day they always message me congratulating me on my races. it’s definitely a lesson learned, to be very adamant not to have your spikes taken off you.
What is your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is quite a personal. It’s quite well known that I have epilepsy and big fear of mine is having another seizure. I’ve been seizure free for a while now, but my biggest fear is to have another one because when I was having my seizures, they were quite severe. I had quite a serious one when I was younger that took the movement from the left side of my body. It was almost like I had a stroke; I was paralyzed down one side. The reason it’s my biggest fear is because if it were to happen again it would mean that I would have to go through the process of learning to walk and learning to talk again so it would really impact on my athletic career. I went through a quite a rough period of my life where I would worry about having another seizure. I don’t worry as much now, but it is definitely my greatest fear much more than spiders or heights or anything like that. Fortunately, it doesn’t have too much of an impact on my daily life anymore.
Scotland is famous for many interesting foods – what is your favourite Scottish delicacy?
I’m torn on this one, between haggis and Scottish tablets. I love haggis and a lot of people say it’s gross, but I really do love haggis. My great Gran she used to give me tablets when I was younger and it’s very sweet and sticky so you can’t have too much of it. I’ve gone for a sweet and savoury option.
Where are you at your happiest?
I’m at my happiest when I’m with my immediate family- my mom, my dad, my brother, and my sister. I’m the happiest when it is just us five because I just feel like we could all be ourselves and we have such a good laugh together. We are all really close and I don’t get to see them as much because of what I do and because I don’t live with them. I’m happiest when we’re just just chilling at home or just doing anything as long as that we are all really happy. I think the less time I spent with my family the more that I really miss them. And don’t get me wrong if I moved back home and lived with them, I’d probably say my favorite place was the athletics track.