Onuora thriving off fearless approach

Versatile sprinter Anyika Onuora heads to Birmingham for the Sainsbury’s British Championships full of confidence with Moscow in mind

Anyika Onuora (Mark Shearman)

As one of only three women in the world to have met the ‘A’ qualifying standards for the IAAF World Championships over each of the three sprint distances – 100m, 200m and 400m – things are looking good for Anyika Onuora ahead of Moscow.

Since relocating to Loughborough to train under coach Rana Reider, who took a full-time coaching role with the UKA in 2012, the 28-year-old 200m specialist has produced a string of impressive performances, including an equal 200m personal best of 22.93 in Hengelo last month as well as a 52.11 clocking over 400m in her debut over the distance at the Exxonmobile Bislett Games in Oslo, a time which she reduced to 51.38 just a few weeks later in France.

Not bad for someone who had previously never considered taking on the longer distance for fear she might ‘hit the wall’.

“I never really thought of running the 400m before because I just never thought I’d be good at it,” she admits. “I thought I’d probably get to 300m and hit a brick wall!

“But obviously the training has changed a lot this year, everything has been working out so well.

“Rana has taught me to just run and just be fearless”

“I feel a lot more comfortable and happy,” she adds as we speak about her move and her training group, which includes the likes of US Olympic and world triple jump champion Christian Taylor and fellow sprinters Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and James Ellington.

And it’s that positive mental outlook that is also working wonders for an athlete who confesses she used to overthink her races.

“Rana has taught me to just run and just be fearless,” she says.

“He doesn’t give me much time to prepare, he just expects you to just go out and run which is what is obviously working for me. Before I definitely used to overthink a lot of things.

“Now I just turn up, not overthinking, and just get the work done.”

And that’s exactly what she plans to do at the world trials in Birmingham this weekend where she is entered into the 100m as well as the 200m.

“The good thing is that we have options,” she says when asked whether it’s likely she’ll also contest the shorter sprint.

“I’m not entered for the 400m but I’m entered for the 100m and the 200m so I could double up. I’ll just see how I feel.

“I’m in a fantastic position,” she adds, “because I have already qualified but obviously I need to guarantee my spot for either event so we’ll just see how it goes.”

As the Liverpool Harrier explains, her strong season means she has choices ahead of Moscow, and she’s not ruled out doing multiple events which includes both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

“Before it would never have crossed my mind to do more than two events at a championships, especially two separate relays. But now, because I feel healthy and I’m a lot stronger and fitter I know I can run rounds which is what you need going into a championships,” she says.

“Provided I’m fit and I’m healthy, I’ll just be taking one race at a time. I’m definitely in a good position. I feel ready to perform on the world stage and I can’t wait.”

» The Sainsbury’s British Championships take place from July 12-14 at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium. You can find our preview to the event here.

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