Part of our young athlete series, hurdler Moesha Howard tells AW about her fascinating family links and future plans
If athletics potential has anything to do with genes, then sprint hurdler Moesha Howard is destined for ultimate success.
The 16-year-old’s second cousin is no other than the fastest man ever to have lived: Usain Bolt!
“Usain’s nan and my nan were sisters, or so I have heard from my dad,” says Moesha. “Unfortunately I have never had a chance to meet him, but he is most definitely my biggest idol and I do look up to him.”
While Moesha is well aware it will be hard to match the achievements of Bolt, her success shows she has plenty of talent. She also seems to have inherited a smart mental approach, where she stays grounded and does not let herself get too caught up in the moment.
“Whenever I win, I never know how I really feel as I go into a shocked mode. There is no time to party or rest because it is straight on to aiming for bigger and better things,” she says.
Moesha won her first national title in the 75m hurdles at the England Athletics Under-15 Championships in 2011, as well as claiming silver in the English Schools title. This year, the talented teenager competed in the 100m hurdles at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine. She narrowly missed the final after placing fourth in her semi-final, but took consolation from the fact that she finished ninth overall and set a PB of 13.66, which is the third fastest ever by a UK under-18 athlete.
“The World Youths was definitely one of the best experiences of my life,” she remembers. “Everything about it – from the call-ups to the big screen, the interviews and the non-English officials – was amazing. I enjoyed being surrounded by athletes from seemingly every country in the world and hearing them talk about their experiences.”
“If you want success enough, you can make it happen”
Moesha has benefitted from the expertise of Julie Pratt, the 1998 world junior champion. “Being coached by Julie is a privilege and so rewarding,” says Moesha. “It is great to have a coach who understands and can give tips about competitions based on her experience.
“When I finish a race she always says, ‘you haven’t beaten my time yet’, which really inspires me to improve.
“She’s a great laugh as well as making sure I’m disciplined, which is an amazing combination.”
A typical weekly training outline involves hurdles on a Tuesday, sprints on a Thursday and a ‘surprise’ session on a Sunday. The other days Moesha does circuits or stretching at home. Pratt is on hand to watch and offer advice on Tuesdays and Sundays, with the sessions taking place at Chelmsford Athletics Centre, whereas Moesha trains with her boyfriend at Mile End stadium on Thursdays.
“My boyfriend is a very quick footballer, so he is my training partner for sprints on a Thursday. On Tuesdays and Sundays I have a lovely little group of hurdlers to train with,” she says.
Having had to overcome many obstacles in the form of social problems within school and health issues that resulted in a health professional telling her that she would have to give up athletics, Moesha has developed the motto: ‘If you want success enough, you can make it happen.’ As a hurdler, the strong-minded youngster is now, quite literally, enjoying getting over barriers.
“It may seem quite simple but what I like most about my event is that there are hurdles in the way,” she says. “The favourite to win could clip a few and it’s all over. You have no time to think, so the one thing I always tell myself while I am in the blocks is ‘just run’,” she says.
Her main target in 2014 is to qualify for the World Juniors. Aside from that, she would love to emulate just some of the achievements of her famous cousin.
You can find further performance stats on Moesha on Power of 10 here.
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