On this day in 2008, twelve years ago, I received the frustrating news that I’d once again been missed off the ‘Talent’ program for UKAthletics Funding.
It seems this was my second year failing to be selected for this program (as per my silly Facebook rant – I have a love-hate relationship with these FB Memories LOL).
The reasons they gave were –
1/ You won’t be able to train well on your own (I was moving to London for university at UCL and my then-coach, John Crotty and training group were in the North of England – Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent).
2/ You’ll be distracted and enamoured by the ‘party lifestyle’ of university and drop off in athletics.
And yet, twelve years later (with a brief, much-needed hiatus), I’m still standing.
I love looking back on the past because it truly gives you perspective for the present and hope for the future.
Here’s how – knowing that at that time I received the news I was furious; I was so frustrated by the lack of belief my own governing body had in me, despite a Commonwealth Youth Gold medal and finishing 8th at the final of the World Junior Championships that year. What? I’m not even good enough to join the lowest level of funding available? And you’re questioning my commitment and dedication despite the fact I’ve progressed year on year in the past three years of entering this sport? Surely a young athlete entering university, moving away from familiar structures and routines of home requires more support, not less or none at all!?
I commented on the post that I didn’t want to appeal their decision, despite suggestions that I should, because ‘they’re [UKA] not worth it’, but I imagine I just didn’t have the mental strength to waste on this for a second time round.
I mean, how much does a girl have to do to get noticed around here?
The previous year (2007), I’d exceeded 6 metres for the first time to confirm my place to represent Great Britain at the World Youth Championships and finished on the podium at the age-group National Championships.
That wasn’t enough and neither were my 2008 feats.
I imagine 18-year-old Abs felt a little hopeless.
But anyway, looking back on that moment and the journey since then gives me perspective for the present.
Perspective for the present makes me truly appreciate my current position.
I’m now in receipt of UK Athletics Lottery Funding. And I am so thankful for that.
This time, despite potentially legitimate reasons that we discussed for me to not be on funding (age, commitment questioned due to previous retirement, no coach), they chose to believe in me.
And now… we are in the middle of a global pandemic where my main (athletics-related) concerns are… when will the indoor track open and how can I ensure I stay healthy so I’m not forced to miss out on 2-weeks of training?
But, even despite these crazy times we are living through, I know that when we look back another 12 years down the line, there will be lessons learned, a new perspective gained and even more hope.
Because the growth over the past twelve years has been incredible. I’ve learned that I have way more strength and perseverance than I ever would’ve imagined available (all thanks to God!).
Indeed, we are all stronger than we think.
And that’s the ‘hope for the future’.
Because what this flashback has made me realise is – with or without funding, excellence is achievable when you back yourself. So back yourself. Believe in you. Keep fighting. Whether it takes 2 days, weeks, months or… 12 years… it’ll come right in the end.
Romans 8:28 NIVUK
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”