For 10 years athletics has been my passion. I chose the 400m after national success at triple jump, high jump and decathlon. After medalling at the 2008 World Juniors I started studying architecture at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 2011.
My training was significantly impacted by the demands of a time-intensive course at a leading university, but the offer to study at Cambridge was an opportunity I couldn't refuse. Despite remaining as committed to training as I could be, my performances levelled off as I struggled with recurring injuries and the demands of my studies.
Whilst balancing a full-time job with training, my progress resumed. I was ranked first in the country at Under-23 level, but an Achilles injury halted my season early. As a result, I had surgery in October of 2012 and since then I have committed myself to training and fulfilling the potential that has been dormant for the last few years.
It has been a longer journey than most to reach this stage but I am determined to focus all my efforts into athletics and this has meant moving to work with Tony Lester. After the Olympics I realised I had to make changes to reach the global-elite level I am capable of. The opportunity to be coached by Tony was a chance to work with the country's leading 400m coach, someone with an unrivalled pedigree having coached more men than any other below the magical 45-second barrier. I now have a coaching and support system in place to focus properly on training and I am being mentored by Roger Black (who Tony coached to Olympic silver).
I am not funded by my national governing body so every penny really helps. After several years of injury I am at a critical time in my sporting career. There have been many talented athletes lost to the sport through injury.
The scholarship will help me to put in place a great team of doctors and therapists to help me train consistently and recover effectively. It will also help reduce the time spent doing part-time work and allow me to focus on my training like never before. To receive this support is incredible and only furthers my drive to succeed.
I think I'm a well-rounded, ambitious and dedicated person who's able to articulate a passion for athletics. I hope that I can benefit Sky through my hard work ethic and my belief in making the most of every opportunity. I was also fortunate enough to study at Cambridge and I want to dispel the notion that sport and academia are incompatible.
Any support from Sky would be instrumental in aiding my progression and development into a world-class athlete. It would help fund therapy to keep injuries at bay and allow me to allocate less time to part-time work and more to what I really care about - running fast.
My first year as a Sports Scholar has been an eye opening mix of highs and lows. Frustratingly I have been sidelined with injury for most of it but Sky’s support has been amazing and I am incredibly grateful to be one of the Scholars.
It’s been tough to miss another year of competition but thanks to Sky I’ve been able to experience so many amazing opportunities and most importantly I’ve been able to create the best possible support system for my training. In some ways that makes it all the more disappointing to suffer another injury but 12 months on I can say I am a smarter athlete and as determined as ever.
I started the year in the US where I went to the Michael Johnson Performance Centre for a period of intensive rehab. If anything stands out from the last year it’s this experience. And it didn’t just speed up my progression back to full training. Mentally, it gave me a huge boost of confidence, showing me that with some relatively small corrections I have the physical attributes and skills to make it in this sport.
Sky’s support has transformed my training, particularly the way I recover from sessions and prevent injury and I had my first consistent winter for a long time. Everything was going as planned and I was excited to start competing.
Unfortunately another Achilles tear at the end of April meant I’ve instead spent the season recovering and unable to race. It’s still unclear how the injury happened, but I’ve realized that after years of pushing through Achilles pain I have to accept that the healing process of a very damaged tendon is slow, gradual and doesn’t pay attention to things like competition seasons. Fortunately I’m now back approaching full fitness and I just have to remember that my long-term goals remain unchanged.
It’s been inspiring to meet the other scholars and to watch them compete. Stepping back from the track I’ve had the chance to interview David Beckham for Game Changers, work with the creative team at Sky Sports and to meet Michael Atherton as a mentor. I’m so grateful to have had these experiences and more, and they’ve helped me develop as a person as well as an athlete. So after my first year on the programme my attention has turned to the future, and I’m keeping my eyes firmly on the opportunities the next year promises on and off the track.