How shot put star juggled two jobs with hours of training to earn ‘dream’ Olympic place
PUBLISHED: 16:18 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:18 09 October 2019
Training to compete against the world’s best is a difficult task for any athlete.
But when you have to juggle two part time jobs with endless hours of practice, that challenge becomes much harder.
Having become the first British woman in 36 years to qualify for a shot put final at the World Athletics Championships in Qatar last week, Norfolk's Sophie McKinna is well on her way to becoming one of the best athletes in her field.
But despite this achievement, she is not willing to give up her day jobs at Norfolk Police and Sentinel Leisure Trust just yet.
"I really enjoy my work because it takes my mind off competing," Miss McKinna said.
"It means my whole life isn't centred around athletics which takes a bit of the pressure off.
"It's definitely a welcomed distraction."
Miss McKinna, from Gorleston, balances three to four shifts a week as a custody officer and gym instructor with her shot put training which she does twice a day, six days a week.
Although the 25-year-old receives sponsorship from a number of businesses in Norfolk she is not funded by UK Athletics which means she has to pay for a lot of her training.
She holds most of her sessions at either Top Body gym in Gorleston or The Wellesley.
At the world championships in Doha, she realised her lifelong dream of qualifying for the Olympics by throwing a personal best distance of 18.61m.
Although the 25-year-old finished 11th overall, she described qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a "dream come true".
She said: "As soon as I made the throw I knew it was going to be long but when I realised it was big enough to qualify for the Olympics I almost broke down.
You may also want to watch:
"It really is a dream come true and is recognition for all the hard work I've put in over the last couple of years."
Miss McKinna, who is also the granddaughter of former Norwich City player and manager Dave Stringer, said she has been overwhelmed by all of the messages of support she has received.
"I think my phone almost blew up with the amount of messages I have received," she said.
"The support really has been amazing.
"I can't wait to sit down with my coach and start setting out my targets for the Olympics."
In the meantime, the 25-year-old will return to work on Sunday where she is sure to receive a heroes reception.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Great Yarmouth Mercury. Click the link in the orange box above for details.