Norfolk's Sophie McKinna prepares to face shot put legend at Commonwealth Games
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Just three weeks ago Sophie McKinna was not going to the Commonwealth Games - but today she is in Australia and preparing to face a legend.
Great Yarmouth shot put star McKinna received a late call-up to Team England after injury to other athletes, following a personal best performance to win silver at the British Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham last month.
The 23-year-old is now on the Gold Coast preparing for her second Commonwealths, having finished fifth in Glasgow four years ago – behind two-time Olympic and five-time world champion Valerie Adams.
“The recent event has been the World Indoor Championships and the Jamaican (Danniel Thomas-Dodd) came second, so she’s looking likely to be the favourite,” McKinna said of her rivals.
“And then the best female shot putter of all time Valerie Adams, from New Zealand, will be there but she’s coming back from having a baby. So she’s a bit of an unknown entity in terms of what she’ll do.
“But she’s always going to be fantastic, she’s thrown 17 and 17-and-a-half metres this season but people are expecting her to go up to 19 metres knowing that’s what she’s capable of.
“So I wouldn’t say there’s a favourite but I think it’s going to be very tight from third to sixth place because there’s a lot of girls around the same mark.
“I know one of the Canadians has thrown quite well as well. So it’s going to be tight and if I produce my best I hope to better my fifth place from Glasgow.”
The former Lynn Grove High School pupil is in Australia for the first time – after conquering her nerves about flying – but due to her late call-up she will need plenty more mental strength.
“In Glasgow it was almost like a home games because we had a lot of English fans there supporting us but in a way going to Australia feels much better, even though it’s the same competition, but because of the travel and how far it is,” McKinna added.
“None of my family or my coach are going to be able to be there because of the cost of travel, so either way it feels like it’s a bigger event. So in terms of it being a bigger event, I’ve got to almost stand up and do it on my own.”