Still I Rise – An Interview with Serita Solomon

Serita became British Indoor 60mH champion in February 2015
Serita became British Indoor 60mH champion in February 2015

Country: Great Britain

Discipline: 100m Hurdles, 60m Hurdles

Notable Achievements: 2015 British Indoor Champion, European Indoor Bronze Medalist

PB: 100mH – 12.87s; 60mH – 7.93

‘I know it sounds a bit strange, but I don’t really look at the people – all the international stars – who are winning everything. I look more at my own age group, especially people like Dina Asher-Smith  who I actually know….the people who train where I used to train, and live the same type of lifestyle I live. If they can do it, then I can too.’

Serita is a hardworking, motivated, strong young woman. She’s also an elite British athlete who has represented Great Britain since 2013 and is excited about reaching the pinnacle of her success by getting to the Olympic Games. But the #RoadtoRio is far from a walk in the park!

‘You’ve got at least four of us with the capability to make the team and that’s just if nobody else appears from somewhere else or comes up the rankings really quickly.’

‘This year has kind of shown me you can be so close but yet so far away.’

For those who don’t know, the Great Britain team selectors chose to exclude Serita from the team competing at the World Championships in August 2015, despite her having ran the qualification standard twice and an empty 3rd spot being available. So, learning from this years’ mistakes, she is committed to make her dream a reality.

‘That third place spot is just a myth. If I have two standards and I come second or first at [the Olympic] Trials then they can’t say no, and that’s the position I’ve got to put myself in.’

I love that Serita chooses to take 100% responsibility for her life, the circumstances and the events that unfold, and her response to it. This is a core tenet of successful living, and a wonderful example to follow.

You just have to use it for motivation next year.
You just have to use it for motivation next year.

But how do you keep the fire in your spirit when you’ve been knocked down for the gazillionth time by life and his maleficent merry men? ‘It’s kind of a bit of a kick in the teeth, but then also you can’t look at it in a bitter way. You just have to use it for motivation next year.’

Thankfully, the tattoo on Serita’s left wrist that reads ‘still I rise’ seems to be the theme of her last decade in the sport. These three powerful words epitomise her response to life’s trials. She knows she is determined, and because she defines success as ‘achieving your personal goals’, she also knows the only way to be a success is to ‘get up, keep going, keep pushing and rising to achieve your goals’. And this inspires me!

What’s more, 2015, as ‘difficult’ as it has been, is Serita’s ‘breakthrough’ year. Talk about bitter-sweet, eh?

2

‘I’ve had my best season ever. I’ve really worked so hard over the winter, had a brilliant indoor season, I’ve run PBs, I’ve run 6x quicker than my personal best from the year before, and then you still miss out [on GB team selection].’

But this hasn’t been the toughest challenge Serita has faced.

‘When I was younger…I was just kind of sailing through my sport. So it wasn’t until I got my major injuries and setbacks that I kind of started to question stuff.’

‘2 and a half years completely out of the sport is physically really hard to deal with, but emotionally no-one prepares you for the emotional trauma of having that kind of long injury.’

In 2007, Serita suffered a left Achilles rupture, followed by a right Achilles rupture ‘a year to the month’ after, and subsequently tore her hamstring the next year in the European Junior Championship’s 100mH final.

‘And then I just didn’t believe in myself for like 2 years after. That was probably the hardest setback.’

Clearly, life isn’t perfect. Nor is it always easy. She’s often faced struggles and adversities. Yet she hasn’t lost herself. It is clear setbacks can erode confidence and optimism, but she finds inner-strength whilst at the same time reminding us that it’s okay to not be okay. And when you keep hitting life’s hurdles again and again and again, it is hard to remain annoyingly hopeful and not allow the doubts to creep in, but it’s not impossible!

After all, as Serita herself says, ‘when I just feel like there’s just no doubt and no worry, I always run well.’ It’s keeping the hope alive that will see her achieve her Olympic dream!

‘I’ve wanted to go to the Olympics since I was like 12 years old.’

‘I don’t have a fairytale ending for that one yet, but I’m heading in the right direction.’

We are less than a year away from the Rio Olympic Games. The athletics (aka ‘track and field’ if you’re American) runs from Friday 12th to Sunday 21st August! I know you’re excited! But to catch Serita there, tune in on Day 5 at 11:05am on Tuesday 16th August for Round 1 of the 100m hurdles! #RoadtoRio & #London2017 – the countdown has already begun.

P.S. Connect with Serita on Twitter @serita44 and if you’d like to support her journey financially, in prayer, or otherwise, visit JLB Sport Stars. Thanks for reading. Click here to view the other featured M.I.E. Stories of Success  and be sure to like, comment, share & subscribe!

P.P.S. The main purpose of these MIE Stories of Success is defined by Serita’s words of a ‘personal connection’ to inspire. Maybe you know somebody who has inspired you and motivated you to be better and to believe in your dreams! If so, you’ll understand what I’m trying to do. Help me encourage others by sharing Serita’s story. Thank you!

#RoadtoRio2016 & #London2017 - the countdown has already begun...
#RoadtoRio2016 & #London2017 – the countdown has already begun…
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