Profession: Athlete – 100m
- 2022 Commonwealth Games 4×100m relay gold medallist
- 2017 European Under-23 Championships 100m gold medallist and 4x100m relay silver medallist
- 2016 Olympian
- 2015 European Junior Championships 100m gold medallist
- 2013 World Youth Championships 100m silver medallist
Can you take us through that moment you crossed the finish line anchoring England to the Commonwealth gold in the 4x100m relay?
It was a mixture of emotions because initially I wasn’t selected for the Commonwealth Games, and was called to the team about five days before the competition began. I would say I was prepared, but I had obviously written off the Games and to then get the call to go, it was a little bit rushed. The 100m didn’t go so well and I was a little bit down, but it was a home championship and every single time they announced us the cheers were unbelievable. It was something that I’m pretty sure I’m not going to experience again in my career, a one in a lifetime experience. So going into the relay I was taking with the disappointment from the 100m and wanting to make sure we left with a gold medal. There was a lot of pressure because we were defending champions and are known for being good in the relays. When I crossed the finish line and finally knew that job was done it was a relief. I felt vindication for not being in the relay team for the past few years and not being selected initially for the Games. It was just like party, with a crowd of about 30,000 people in there, they stayed for about an hour and a half doing the lap of honor with us. It was the craziest set of emotions I think I’ve ever had in one competition.
We read that you considered becoming a professional football player, what made you choose athletics?
I don’t even think it was a case of me choosing athletics, it was just that football didn’t choose me. Honestly, I wasn’t that great. I was at decent level but not quite at the level required to make it through the academies and to play in the top Premier League teams. I felt like technically I wasn’t so good although my speed and ability to finish was pretty good; but if you’re going to make it as a footballer you need to have a lot more attributes than just that. I got to the age of 15 and thought ‘Yeah this is not going to happen’. I just thought I’ve always had this speed in football so why not try athletics. During sport days I would always win the sprints and I felt like that was my arena. I decided to move over to track full time and see where that would go. I was lucky to find a club where I really enjoyed the training and had great camaraderie with my training partners, which made me replace that team element you get with football. The decision made it easier as time went on.
I train at Lee Valley Athletics Centre in North London. There was a guy who worked at a reception named Peter Scott and he’s been there for a number of years. Peter is the one who first got me started in athletics. My school came to the facility for our annual sports day. I ran the last leg of the relay, which is quite funny because I actually ended up running the last leg at the Commonwealth Games. So, my first sort of real moment in athletics actually came from a relay. Peter came up to me afterwards and said you need to come down and train, you’ve got some potential. At that moment I only knew sports from the lens of football, so I thought I was going to get picked up by an academy and become part of an athletics football team. When I then joined them that was when I saw the individuality of athletics and the different dynamics.
Can you tell us about the most technical part of the 100m for you?
For me I would say the most technical part is the start, especially for someone who has a good top end speed. It’s not really about how well you start but the setup of the stride is extremely important because it has to put you in a position to where you can access your strengths. So, for me that would be getting into my top end speed and being able to get on level with the fast athletes, get in front of them and try to win the race. I’ve had a few seasons where my start was really good, and I ran personal bests over the 100m. This season, where I was really not there at all, you find yourself not being able to close ground on the guys at the top level.
Of all the training sessions you do, can you tell us about one of the toughest you’ve done?
I think there are two that come to mind at the moment. One of them being 6x250m, that is a tough one. Anything that has 6 to 8 reps, so let’s say 6 to 8 x 250m or 6 to 9 x 250m, is that kind of range that usually gets a bit tough. The first set is quite easy, the second set is OK, and then the last set you’re dead. You can’t get away from being dead on that last set, that’s part of it and it has to happen. The last set of any session that has nine reps is usually the toughest.
On the other end I would say it is those really fast workouts, for example if I’ve got three x 120m or 150m and they need to be race pace and I need to do the reps as fast as I can. That can be lethal because the first one is going to be super-fast and when you get that last one and your fitness is not where it needs to be your body is going to be in a territory it’s never been there before. When you get that session right you know you’re ready to roll for sure.
What is the WORST advice you ever received?
This is such a good question. I remember someone telling me that I should quit the 100m and do the decathlon. The advice was given to me at such a young age, and I feel that if I had not believed in my talent that I might have just given up on the 100m which has eventually turned out well. I think at that age when I was told that, it was a bit disheartening, not that the decathlon is a bad event, but being told that you should change events felt like a confidence blow.
What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Always in my fridge at home has to be water especially when I’m training. You always find oat milk and dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate because of the health benefits but was never a fan when I was younger. Those three things are constant.
Do you have any pets? If not, what pet would you like to have?
If I could have a pet, I’d have a pet tiger. I like that idea but of course the practicality of it might not be too great. If I was not alternate universe and the lion and tiger couldn’t kill me, then I could have a pet lion or pet tiger.