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Yarmouth athlete explains U-turn after accepting British Athletics offer

Sophie McKinna has explained why she has accepted a place on the British Athletics world class programme after initially rejecting the funding. Picture: British Athletics

Sophie McKinna has explained why she has accepted a place on the British Athletics world class programme after initially rejecting the funding. Picture: British Athletics

2020 British Athletics

Sophie McKinna decided to accept a place on British Athletics’ world class programme due to the uncertainty around the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sophie McKinna celebrates retaining her British title in Manchester. Picture: British Athletics/Getty ImagesSophie McKinna celebrates retaining her British title in Manchester. Picture: British Athletics/Getty Images

McKinna, 25, had initially declined the offer as she did not want to become a full-time athlete. However, after taking a break from her role as a custody officer with Norfolk she reconsidered her decision to give her the best chance of success at the next year’s rescheduled Olympics in Tokyo.

“It was really simple for me - I had to think long term what would be the best for my health,” said shot putter McKinna, who will receive £15,000 as well as full medical and training support as part of the programme. “I want to stay as safe as possible (between now and Olympics).

“I have not been working during this time and they have been really understanding and I will go back there when I feel it’s safe to do so.

“British Athletics don’t say whether I can work or not (being part of the programme). My coach and I just thought it was for the best (to get on the programme) because no-one really knows what the long term consequences could be.

Sophie McKinna in action at the British Championships. Picture: British Athletics/Getty ImagesSophie McKinna in action at the British Championships. Picture: British Athletics/Getty Images

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“I want to go to the Olympics is the best possible shape with no health concerns. I want to be able to perform at my best.”

McKinna, who became the first British woman in 36 years to reach the World Championships shot put final last year, retained her British title last Friday at the National Championships in Manchester with a throw of 17.88m to finish her season.

She will now take a break before embarking on a winter training programme, which sees her split her time between the Sportspark at the UEA and the Wellesley in Great Yarmouth.

“It was nice to defend my title – it’s been a very strange season so far as I’ve only competed three times,” she added.

“I didn’t go into the competition expecting to win – I knew I was going to be pushed by the number two and I knew I couldn’t take anything for granted.

“I’ve finished the season now so I’ll have a couple of weeks off and start planning the year with my coach into Tokyo next year. In the meantime I’m just going to walk my dog and take a bit of chill time out from what has been a very strange year for everyone before we start getting into winter training.”


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