You’re a professional long jumper and sprinter for team GB who has competed all over the world! Tell us, where did it all begin?
It really began at 12, when I started playing rugby. I had always enjoyed playing sports, but my passion for rugby was different. There was nothing quite like running down a pitch, covered in mud, dodging girls who literally wanted to rip you apart! It was my dream to play professionally. Just before my 16th birthday, everything changed. I was involved in a boating accident – I was caught in the propellers, and had lacerations to my lower back and right leg. Unfortunately, my foot had to be amputated. I was absolutely devastated. I couldn’t imagine a life without sport. I promised myself in my hospital bed I would find a way. It was a long road to becoming a sprinter and long jumper, but I feel so lucky to have fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a professional athlete!
What attracted you to pursue long jumping and sprinting?
While I was at uni, I happened to walk by an athletics practice, and all I could think about for the following week was “How fast can I still run?” Running is the last thing people expect you to do after you become a leg amputee. That was probably what most attracted me to it, the irony of being a professional sprinter with only one foot. I really enjoy the individual aspect of the sport. You are alone out there; there is no hiding. It is both scary and exhilarating. And so satisfying when the endless hours of hard work are rewarded with the result you were looking for!
How’s the preparation for Rio 2016 going? Have you added to or changed anything to the way you are training since London 2012?
Preparations for Rio are going really well. I have had the best season of my life, breaking the world record twice and becoming the European Champion! I started working with a new coach in 2013, which inevitably comes with a host of changes: different coaching philosophy, different training group, and different workouts. I think it is important to make small changes every year, big ones if necessary, to your approach to training. I want to build and improve upon the previous year, not just repeat it!
You must train for hours and hours a day… how do you keep your energy levels up to make sure you’re getting the most out of your training?
For me, the most important thing is getting into a consistent routine. That way, my body knows what’s coming on a subconscious level, and it’s ready to perform when I need it to. I make sure that I’m sleeping at the same times, napping if necessary, and eating high quality meals at regular intervals. This gets much tougher to do once the competition season starts, as you don’t always have control over competition or travel schedules.
What’s been the highlight so far in your career?
Hands down, standing on the podium in London 2012 to accept my silver medal in front of my friends and family!
What are the three foods you couldn’t live without?
Chocolate, coffee, and peanut butter!
Are there any other forms of exercise you like to do to complement your strict regime?
I love yoga and swimming. They help restore my body and mind naturally, and the injury risk is quite minimal… I’ll save snowboarding for when I retire!
What are your gym bag essentials that you never leave home without?
1) Water Bottle – proper hydration is necessary to get through 4- hour sessions
2) Protein Shake – I want to smash today’s workout, and also tomorrow’s, which is why recovery nutrition is so important. I use my Nutri Bullet to blend up protein powder, peanut butter, fruit and veggies, and I down it straight after my session
3) Training journal – nothing is more motivating than results, but you have to take time to track them.
How do you like to wind down in the evening after a long day on the track?
For me, it is about a good book, and a cup of tea on my loveseat overlooking my garden.
Do you have a positive mantra or quote that keeps you motivated?
“We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit” ~Aristotle
Where’s your dream holiday destination?
At the moment, it is Mt. Kilimanjaro. I would love to spend my next holiday climbing it!
H&H love cute, stylish and functional activewear – If you could workout in anything from our store, what would you pick?