27 February 2014
Sophie Papps (coach: Daniel Cossins) will be one of the youngest members of the GB & NI team travelling to the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Sopot, Poland, next week.
The 19 year old was selected for the 60m following a personal best of 7.22 at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham last week but insists her inclusion in the 35-strong British team came as something of a surprise.
“I was a bit surprised to be selected because I false started at the trials, so I wasn’t too sure whether my performances would get me through,” she explained. “Once I got off the phone, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to get started and meet everyone because it’s a completely different experience to what I’ve ever had before.”
Papps, who is supported by British Athletics’ Futures Programme, will make her senior GB & NI debut in the Polish city but has high hopes of performing well.
She said: “I’d love to make the final, and I’m sure everybody would say that, but I’m just looking to run as fast as I can. Another personal best would be great, but reaching the semi-final would be a really good achievement for me handling everything on a completely new level.
“I’ve only ever done junior level championships before, so it’s a completely different step up. A semi-final spot would be amazing, but a place in the final would be even better.”
Papps’ dreams of qualifying for the World Indoors hung in the balance following disqualification at the Sainsbury’s British Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield and the Windsor, Slough, Eton and Hounslow athlete admits that the false start was a difficult moment for her.
“It was horrible and heart-breaking,” she said. “When I walked off the track I couldn’t believe what happened. My starts are one of the best parts of my race, but my coach really helped me take my mind off it.
“We all took the mick out of it and carried on, which made it a lot easier to get over it. I was really glad I had the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix to focus on so that I could get my mind back in the game and try to completely forget about what happened.”
Papps recovered in style just a week later in Birmingham to run 7.22 in her heat, defeating a number of top international athletes to place second and qualifying for the final where she ran 7.23 just a couple of hours later. The European Junior 100m silver medallist relished the experience of lining up as part of a world class field including the likes of 11-time global medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica.
She continued: “I was nervous when I got there and saw them all and thought ‘should I be here?’ When I got to the start line, I was more excited than nervous. I knew I wasn’t going to false start again because I’d learnt my lesson and my coach had told me it wasn’t going to happen; I worked off that thought. I felt like it was where I belonged, so it was more excitement about seeing what I could run.”
Papps will be joined by GB & NI teammate Asha Philip (Christine Bowmaker) in the 60m in Poland and believes that she is the perfect person to help her perform at her best.
“Asha has come back from so many injury problems and is so mentally strong which is really good to look up and see. For someone who has suffered as much as she has, it’s really good to have people like Asha to be around when you have niggles to tell you that you can come back. She was so nice to me in Sheffield after my false start and in Birmingham and it’s so nice to be wished good luck.”
Being supported by British Athletics’ Futures Programme has helped Papps to continue progressing and she insists that the assistance of the programme has been invaluable on her road to success.
“The Futures Programme has been a great help, it’s obviously given me access to physiotherapists, doctors and other key figures which is really important. I learnt last year how important the support staff are and it opens up doors if there are any problems that you need to sort out quickly.”
The IAAF World Indoors will be televised on the BBC at the following times:
Friday 7 March
09:00 - 12:00 & 19:00 - 20:30 BBC Two
12:00 - 13:00 & 17:00 - 19:00 Red Button
Saturday 8 March
09:00 - 11:30 & 17:10 - 20:30 BBC Two
10:30 - 13:00 BBC Red Button
Sunday 9 March
14:00 - 18:00 BBC Two
For further information on the the Furtures Programme, please contact British Athletics' Development Manager Jo Jennings - firstname.lastname@example.org