'Full steam ahead' - Shot putter not giving up on Olympic dream

Sophie McKinna at the World Athletics Championships in Doha Picture: PA

Sophie McKinna at the World Athletics Championships in Doha Picture: PA - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk shot putter is not giving up on her Olympic dream - as a surge in coronavirus cases in Tokyo again threatens the Games.

Sophie McKinna, 26, from Bradwell, is currently in training for next month's trial that will select members of the British team that will travel to Japan.

The country is currently in the grip of a fourth wave of infections, and a state of emergency has been declared in Tokyo, leading to some doubt as to whether the Olympics will be postponed again, or cancelled outright.

File photo dated 31-12-2020 of Olympic Rings outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. Issue date

The Olympic Rings outside the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan. - Credit: PA

Despite the situation, Japanese officials maintain they are confident the games, only 11 weeks away now, can go ahead.

Ms McKinna said: "I do think of the risks, but I've worked for this for the best part of my life.

"You're constantly looking at updates. But we have to train as if it's going ahead. Whatever will be will be, because I can't control whether the Olympics go ahead.

"For me it's just going ahead with my day to day training normally. I just put the 'Are they? Aren't they?' to the back of my mind.

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"I would be training regardless of whether or not the Olympics go ahead," she added.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: In this handout image provided by British Athletics, Sophie McKi

Sophie McKinna is trying to put coronavirus to the back of her mind as she trains for the Tokyo Olympics. - Credit: British Athletics via Getty Images

In 2019, at the World Championships in Doha, she threw over 18m50 which means she can qualify for the games. Membership of the British team now depends on finishing in the top two at the Olympic trials on June 27.

"I'm 50pc of the way there," she said. "Training is full steam ahead at the moment."

Prospects were not so bright in March, after Ms McKinna suffered from a broken elbow before the European Indoor Championships.

"I was really disappointed. But I am back to full training now, which is a big relief, because at one stage there was talk of surgery," she said.

Last summer, she injured the ligaments in her ankle, which meant that even if the Olympics had gone ahead she would not have been at her best. 

"This year I'm much fitter, much more prepared to throw well," she said.

Her journey to the Olympics - "only a hair's breadth away now" - has been a long one.

"I sat on my mum's lap when I was three years old and said that I was going to be an Olympian," said Ms McKinna.

"It's been a long way down the line, 20 plus years, and I am almost going to achieve that now, it's mind-blowing when you think of it."