As the London 2012 Olympic Games draw ever closer, Sport.co.uk asks prospective Team GB members about their favourite sporting memories, career highlight
Steph Twell. The 21-year old middle distance runner is a World Junior Champion at 1500m and took the bronze medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Dehli. She is a rising star in Team GB and now Steph has taken time to speak to us about her competitive approach to obstacle courses, Paula Radcliffe, the proudest moments of her career and how 'Chariots of Fire' inspires her.
Sport / Event?
Middle Distance runner / 1500 Metres
How did you first get into running?
I was always very competitive at sports days. I had this passion to win. I didn't like to be beaten. Well at obstacle courses and cross-country! I was part of the school cross-country club but it wasn't until I moved really close to an athletic club and my dad, who is a really keen runner, said 'I am going to check out the local athletic club, do you want to come?' And I did. I suppose it is just very sociable to go and meet friends there on a Tuesday and Thursday night. I had a good work ethic and I kept working hard and got more out of the sport. And here I am.
Did you know from a young age that is was something you wanted to do?
I did. I love being outdoors, I love walking my dog, finding new routes through the forest and stuff. That was something that always inspired me. But I think running is also something which is about mind over matter.
When did you realise you could be successful at it?
I think there was a turning point when I was 15-years old and I won the National Championships.
Who were your childhood heroes?
I would have to say Paula Radcliffe. She was a huge role model, she has moved mountains in the sporting world.
What about non-sporting role models?
Family members and my coach.
What is your favourite Olympic moment?
I do really like Cathy Freeman's race in Sydney. With the home crowd behind her, the pressure of what it meant to her being a female and coming from aboriginal background - I think it is incredibly liberating for a woman to overcome those invisible hurdles, those pressures. I think it showed her strength of character.
What is the toughest part of your training?
Injuries are definitely the toughest part of being an athlete. They take you away from what you love to do the most. But at the same time I think you draw strength from it and you grow in different ways and it makes you more hungry for it.
So far in your career, what would you say has been your proudest moment?
I would say there are two. One is winning the World Junior Championship at 1500m. Also, making my first Olympic team and being on the start line looking up at the Olympic torch thinking 'this is where I want to be.' I only turned 19 in Beijing but now I am more mature, more experienced now so looking ahead to 2012, I hope that will be one of my best experiences.
Let's not call me a veteran! Let's call me a junior.
What are you most looking forward to about the London Games?
It is difficult to pinpoint. For me it is the fact that the support that you will have when you are racing, you know that everyone will be cheering for you above the other nations and that is incredibly inspiring. I actually watched Chariots of Fire yesterday and even just hearing the roar there was just like 'wow' and I think it will be 100 times louder than that. So that really inspires me, the pride of representing your country. I am very patriotic so that's what I am looking forward.
What are your personal ambitions for 2012?
I think I am going to keep that precious to my heart and not tell you.
Outside of your, which event are you most looking forward to watching?
That's tough. I love sport so it is very difficult to pick one. I would probably say the men's 5000m or the women's 400m hurdles and the men's 400m hurdles. And the marathon because the London marathon is this weekend and that's awesome.
If you weren't a sports-person what would you be doing?
I would like to be travelling around the world. If not, maybe a teacher and a mum.
‘2012 hopeful Steph Twell (1500m and 5000m) was speaking at an exclusive event at Niketown London to celebrate the launch of the Nike Free Run+2 on NIKEiD.com. The Nike Free Run+2 delivers the benefits of barefoot running by maximising the foot’s natural range of motion whilst providing protection and cushioning for a smooth ride. Find out more at NIKEiD.com’