Middle distance runner Sarah McDonald is starting to make a habit of qualifying for major championships. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the following is an excerpt of an interview that will appear in full in the next edition of Backtrack.
Before taking up athletics your sport was figure skating. Did you have any interest in athletics when growing up?
Not in particular. I would watch the Olympics and participate in school sports days, but my main focus was always on the ice. There was no suggestion that I would ever be destined for a life on the track!
Who first spotted that you had a talent for athletics and how did you get started in the sport?
When I was 15 I had big injury troubles with my hips and after seeing numerous specialists and surgeons it was decided that I would have to undergo two significant operations, at the time I was heartbroken as it meant I probably would never be able to skate properly again.
However, when I was off crutches I decided I probably needed to get a bit fitter and started running around the block, soon this became twice round the block and before I knew it I was at my local athletics club! I tried to find my niche initially in the heptathlon, but at the grand height of 5ft 2 I was neither built for the high jump or the high hurdles.
Does the advantage of a home crowd really play any significance on athlete performance?
Yes! Definitely! Not only the home crowd though, I remember in Belgrade at the 2017 European Indoor Championships the support of the BASC group on the back straight really spurred me on and it was great being so far from home with neither my coach or family there to hear some people shouting my name and really cheering for me, willing for me to do well.
Do you have a preference of competing on indoor track, outdoor track or cross country? If so, which and why?
It certainly is not cross-country!! I really love the indoor track though; the crowd is closer to the action and the atmosphere seems to be more electric.
Which achivements are you most proud of?
Becoming British Indoor champion in 2017 was a very special moment for me, it was my first British title and something that I'd worked so hard towards. Also making the semi-finals at the World Championships in London, that was pretty special in front of a home crowd!
You're due to make your Team England debut at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, what are you most looking forward to?
I really want to see a koala bear! However, on the running front I can't wait to stand on the start line of another major championship. It is my first time being at a multi-sport games so I'm looking forward to experiencing the athlete village.
What goals have you set yourself for 2018?
I obviously want to perform to the best of my ability in Australia, but I also hope to make the team for the European Championships in Berlin and improve my personal bests in the 800m and 1500m.
What single piece of advice would you give to any young aspiring athlete?
To enjoy it and don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Interviewed by one of our members