Podcast #44: England Athletics' awards season special

It’s awards season! In this episode of the England Athletics Podcast, a range of great athletes give their reflections as a wonderful year – highlighted by a brilliant Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games – draws to a close.

European champion Alex Haydock-Wilson and Olympic medallist Katharine Merry talk about succeeding after disappointment and two-time Olympian Tom Bosworth discusses his recent retirement along with what a hypothetical Netflix series on athletics should include.

Also joining host Alex Seftel is Commonwealth champion Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker who wants to be a role model as a para sprinter, while Yemi Mary John remarks on her rise to win the world junior 400m title in a set of interviews recorded at the England Athletics Hall of Fame evening.

Katharine Merry said:

“It’s all too easy to concentrate on how things have been great… but it’s taking the lessons out of the negative situations and the bad times that you have, because there is always something to learn.”

Alex Haydock-Wilson on coming back from disappointment at this year’s World Athletics Championships to win 4x400m gold and individual 400m bronze at the Europeans:

“We like to hide the things that we’re not proud of but this is a sport of ups and downs, it’s a sport of putting yourself out there and being vulnerable… Personal growth is always going to go forward as long as you channel it positively, whether it’s a win or a loss.”

Birmingham 7 August 2022. Tom Bosworth (England). Photo by Mark Shearman

Tom Bosworth said:

“Still, right now, I can’t believe the things I’ve achieved, it’s been phenomenal.”

Tom also spoke about what other sports can learn from openness to diversity in athletics, comments which are particularly poignant during the current FIFA World Cup:

“Whether its religion, skin colour, sexual orientation, it doesn’t really matter because we all have our fit in athletics. We all can become world class by working really hard. Other sports don’t have that diversity in events but they can celebrate the diversity of athletes taking part in their one sport. Because if they do that, they’d probably have a lot more talent in it and see people reach their peak a lot quicker and a lot more naturally if they’re able just to be themselves and be accepted as that.”

Birmingham 2 August 2022. Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker (England) wins the men's T45-47 100m. Photo by Mark Shearman

Beyond winning medals, Emmanuel Oyinbo-Coker wants to be a role model:

“There’s a lot of Olympic athletes that people look up to. But there’s not as many big figures in the Paralympics. I want to be amongst one of those names.”

19-year-old Yemi Mary John says she wasn’t surprised that she smashed her personal best to win gold in Colombia in a time of 51.5 seconds:

“Going in, winning was always my aim. From an outside perspective I think that was hard for people to comprehend… but I knew it was definitely something achievable. That was the goal I had in mind. Once I had my eyes set on it, I wasn’t coming away with anything less.”

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