Tokyo 2020 hopeful Sophie McKinna on working two jobs to achieve Olympic dream

This is the reality of Sophie McKinna, a British thrower, who balances her dream of Olympic glory with her work as both a guard and a gymnastics instructor for years.

His work with the local gendarmerie represents the majority of his income and is a perfect distraction from his sports career, even if things sometimes get exciting.

“We are like bouncers. If people start starting, we take care of it so it’s interesting work,” she told CNN Sport.

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Sophie McKinna turned down the funding to keep her routine.

Refuse funding

The nature of the work forces McKinna to keep her calm during certain test situations, but it is a challenge that she enjoys as her throws continue to grow.

“You come in and every day is different,” she said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get.

“I really enjoy my work and it gives me that head space away from athletics.”

The recent lockdown only underscored the importance of such distraction for McKinna, who temporarily stepped away from her role to protect herself from the virus.

She was able to continue training in her garden but has trouble living, sleeping and practicing in the same place.

It is for this reason that McKinna chose to reject funding for British Athletics earlier this year, a decision that led her to refuse £ 15,000 a year and the chance to become fully professional.

What seems like a strange decision made perfect sense to McKinna who was determined that nothing would upset her preparation before an Olympic year.

“If I became a professional athlete, my brain would turn to mush because I would be too close,” she said.

“I learned this in isolation because I am just above where I train […] so that you don’t get the little sparkle or buzz that I usually get.

“If I became a professional athlete, it would be my reality every day and I don’t think I would do particularly well.”

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McKinna began her youth career as a sprinter.

“Painful” report

McKinna had almost guaranteed her seat on the plane for Tokyo 2020 this summer before the show was postponed amid the coronavirus crisis.

She had already covered the qualifying distance required at the World Championships in Doha in 2019 and just needed to finish in the top two at the British Championships – something good in her abilities.

Admitting her initial reaction to the postponement was a disappointment, the 25-year-old quickly put things into perspective.

“It was painful and the immediate reaction is to think there must be a way to get this going,” said McKinna, who has worked tirelessly for 12 years to get to his enviable position.

“Sport is extremely important in my life, but the people who lose their lives, lose their loved ones, is so much more important than me to throw a ball as far as possible.”

McKinna was thrilled to represent her country before the organizers postponed Tokyo 2020.

“Typical teenager”

Although sport was apparently his fate – his grandfather was a professional footballer and manager of Norwich City – shot put was not his original vocation.

Instead, it was the most glamorous allure of sprinting that caught his eye first, and his talent was clear to see locally.

Despite a multitude of county medals, she knew she would never enter the world elite as a sprinter.

It was actually her mother who persuaded her reluctant 13-year-old daughter to go for it.

“As a typical teenager, I said,” No, I’m not doing this, it’s not cool, no luck. “I obviously ended up doing it because she paid for it and I would be in trouble if I didn’t do it,” she recalls.

Virtual competition

Within eight weeks of this first session, McKinna finished second in her age group at the national championships and quickly recognized her own potential.

She hasn’t looked back since.

Last year, she achieved her best record in her life at the World Championships in Doha, a moment of pure ecstasy and a celebration race across the track.

It was this launch that confirmed its place in Tokyo, an experience that will now have to wait for next year.

In the meantime, McKinna had to settle for virtual competitions by video calls.

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She and a number of other British athletes have so far participated in two virtual competitions where fans around the world are encouraged to film themselves by throwing everything they have at their disposal.

The initiative has also raised funds for the British NHS as it continues to fight the pandemic.

“It’s something that is close to my heart and it’s something that I want to get involved with,” said McKinna, whose sister works in a hospital.

“It’s also about putting the shot put in the foreground. Normally you don’t see the shot put on TV; these are normally the racing events, so it’s nice to be the only event.

“It’s really nice to see. People were drawing chalk circles on the ground and just trying.”

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