00:00:03 Hi. My name is Gemma B. I’m a customer service assistant here at Lee Valley Athletics Centre. My roles include coaching the kids on a Thursday and Tuesday evenings as well as general admin work behind the reception desk. Everyone that comes here is more or less my friend. I know everyone that comes in but then on the flip side it’s good to meet new people who are trying to get into athletics or just trying to stay fit. It is a rewarding process, coaching young kids, especially when they do well in competitions or they learn a new skill or they come back and tell you what they did at school when they, you know, they reach, they’ve done a personal best.
00:00:35 I would’ve liked an older athlete, you know, take some interest in me and give something back to the sport at that age. I was quite good at sports at school and I’ve done a lot of cross-countries then the teacher approached me – you know, that same old story, the teacher approached you and said, you should join the athletics club. So, I went down to my local club and from then I started running. That was back in the early ’90’s and I’ve been doing it ever since.
00:00:57 I remember watching Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell in the Olympics and Linford Christie as well and you always aspire, you say you wanna be like them and win Olympic gold and break world records but you don’t really know what that entails and the kind of hard training that you have to do. So, you know, I was a bit naïve to all that. I started out as a sprinter. From that I had got on to the hurdles but I think it was more or less when I couldn’t win in the sprints I moved on to the hurdles ’cause I knew, you know, I had a good flat speed. So, I could beat most of the hurdlers ’cause they were quite slow. So, it kind of found me rather than me finding it.
00:01:30 And it was kind of my first year at competitive hurdles and I took it seriously then and I ended up with a bronze medal. So, that basically meant I was the third fastest in the country for my age. So, I was pretty impressed with that and I thought, you know, that’s only after one year of training. In my last English school’s championships I actually won it so that was great. Obviously start with a bronze and at the end of it come away like, five years later with a gold. That was a memorable occasion.
00:01:55 My parents always made sure that I had a balanced life in terms of athletics and education. If I was lacking behind in school in any subject area they’d make sure I’d catch up or, you know, they’d get me a tutor. I do reckon education is an important point of a youngster’s life and you should always have that to fall back on if the sports doesn’t work out. I went to Brunel University and I studied psychology there. With University you’ve got to be a bit, you’ve gotta be wise, you’ve gotta have your head screwed on and you’ve gotta know when to train and when to work and to put equal amounts in.
00:02:26 In my third year while I was doing my dissertation I did have to sacrifice my athletics and missed out the indoor season and did kind of miss the athletics training and watching everyone compete. Made me wanna compete but it was worthwhile in the end. The main goal was to make Beijing 2008. Unfortunately, I just missed out on that. At first it did kind of destroy me but, you know, I’ve picked myself up now and I’m looking for my next go, which will be 2012 Olympics which will be London. So, hopefully it will go well. I will make it.
00:02:57 An athlete can be described as someone having bipolar disorder ’cause you’re kind of up and down. You like a manic depressant in some ways as well. One day could be a good day and the next day can be a really bad day. The main key is you’ve just gotta keep on focusing upon your goals, focusing on what you want and, you know, move on from that. From every negative there’s always gonna be a positive and that’s what the athlete’s job is really, to find that.
00:03:21 Unfortunately, my dad passed away when I was quite young when I was fifteen, but I started athletics through him. So, that’s good to know that I’ve achieved something, you know, through him as well and my mom’s like my biggest fan. Wherever I am she’s there. So, I owe a lot to my parents. The biggest influence in my life would have to be my parents along with coaches that started me off from an early age. This was a guy called David Hobbs. I guess he was the first serious coach that I had so he kind of saw me progress and then I got to a certain level when he realized that he couldn’t take me any further.
00:03:58 So, he kind of pushed me in the right direction and I do owe a lot to him. I still see him from time to time and he phones as well to see how I’m doing. He’s always checking my progress. That’s really nice to know. At the moment I’m certain that 2012 is probably my last year and I’m hoping to go into psychology either as, you know, sports psychology so I can help other athletes like myself or possibly educational psychology but I’m not interested in the idea of becoming a coach. I think when I retire from athletics that will be it. ENDS