Know that you are a champion. Believe that you are a champion”
This quote may seem comparable to a Muhammad Ali precept; a motto he would take with him into the boxing ring, ready to fight and make history. It’s something my coach said to me just before I was about to race a British 400m Final, our first one as a team. Something that stuck in my mind, as a I toed the start line, unknowing to me, that I was about to qualify for my first senior European Championships.
Though athletics does not exactly resemble a combat sport, we still individually must fight our own battles to create the future we want for ourselves. And throughout my brief career so far, my coach Christine, has been my very own corner-woman, encouraging me with strong, powerful words of affirmation.
I first met Christine at the unripe age of 14, and even then, she saw an ability in me and encouraged me to stick to the sport. Between then and the age of 21, when we finally joined forces full-time, I went through an abundance of phases. Throughout these phases, especially as I was coming out of my junior career and embarking on my journey as a senior athlete, she was always motivating me with inspiring words and stories.
She mentored and guided me through my first World Championship team in 2015 at the age of 19, and whilst there, she allowed me to complete a training session with World and Olympic Champion Christine Ohuruogu, and told me I would be just as good as her one day.
At the 2017 World Championships in London two years later, I sat with her high up in the stands. She wasn’t my coach at this moment in time, but as we looked down onto the track, watching athletes compete on one of the biggest stages in track and field, I confided in her. I was struggling with finding myself as a sportsperson, beginning to believe that, perhaps, sport wasn’t for me.
Here, she further uplifted me, and spoke to me about elite sport and being on a world stage, about mindsets and confidence. About all the challenges we face on the way to where we want to be, and how to stay positive through it all. That talk meant a lot to me and I eventually went on to win a world silver medal, as part of the 4x400m relay.