British sprints talent Amy Hunt says her feet felt like they were burning as she sped to a world U18 200m record in Mannheim on Sunday
It is never good to skip school, but Amy Hunt had a pretty good excuse on Monday. The previous day she had set a world under-18 200m record in Germany and arrived home in Nottinghamshire exhausted at 2am.
So instead of going into her sixth form college in Grantham, where she is halfway through A-level studies in English literature, art and chemistry, she enjoyed a lie-in and attempted to come to terms with a performance that stunned the athletics world.
Her time of 22.42 at the Mannheim Junior Gala was a PB by three-quarters of a second. It beat Candace Hill’s world under-18 best of 22.43 and Dina Asher-Smith’s British under-20 record of 22.61. What’s more, it was precisely the same time Asher-Smith, the reigning European 100m and 200m champion, clocked on the same day at the Prefontaine Classic in America.
Hunt, who only turned 17 in May, told AW: “I was absolutely ecstatic after crossing the line. I was completely in shock and it’s been a whirlwind since with people telling me all these facts and figures. My phone has absolutely blown up.”
Hunt was merely hoping to dip inside the 23-second barrier and enjoy a good run in the build-up to the European Under-20 Championships in Sweden later this month.
“I was really excited prior to the race,” she says. “I knew it was a fast track. All the under-20s from last year told me I’d have a great race there.
“It was so hot – about 38-39 degrees – and we all had iced towels to keep us cool. I’d run two rounds of the relay with the girls and we’d got the baton around and run a season’s best and were really happy so I was just excited to run the 200m.
“I wanted to enjoy it, embrace the atmosphere, take everything in and just enjoy running. I had a really good start – one of the best I’ve ever had – and I was up on the two girls outside me really quickly and that’s when I knew I was running well. One of them, in lane five, was European youth champion for 100m last year (Guðbjörg Jóna Bjarnadóttir of Iceland) so I knew she was really fast and she was outside me which was very useful.
“I really attacked the bend and went for it and then my feet started to heat up because the track was so hot and I was giving it 100% and it just felt insanely good when I was running. I knew it was fast but I didn’t know it was that fast. Then when I crossed the line everyone was screaming and cheering and it was an incredible atmosphere.”
can’t believe this just happened pic.twitter.com/yH9ONVlyaP
— Amy Hunt (@AmyHunt02) June 30, 2019
Hunt’s main memory of the race, though, is the fact her feet were burning from the hot synthetic rubber under her spikes. “The track was so ridiculously hot!” she says. “We worked hard all weekend to make sure we stayed hydrated, used iced towels and electrolytes and I can’t even remember how much I drank – it was a ridiculous amount of water in total.”
The heat obviously did not faze her either. “I definitely enjoy it. I tend to race faster in the heat and I enjoy running in weather that’s as hot as possible but I just had to make the right decisions with hydration, wearing suncream and trying to stay out of the sun. I was indoors quite a lot in the physio room. Staying relaxed and calm.”
One of her relay races was only 80 minutes before her 200m. “I was on the second leg,” she explains, “and when I finished I walked around and went straight indoors, barely talked to anyone and lied down for a bit and put my music on and stayed in the zone with lots of visualisation and had to completely shift my focus on to the 200m.
“Then before my 200m because it was so hot I didn’t do too much more of a warm up. I just some drills and one or two more runs. But I didn’t know how my body was going to cope with running just over an hour later.”
She did more than just ‘cope’ but ran a spectacular time. Luckily her dad (pictured below) had travelled out to watch her too, although her coach, Joe McDonnell, was watching on the live stream at home.
Back in England she trains with McDonnell at Loughborough University. “I do a lot of travelling to train as I live in Newark and we cover a lot of road miles but it’s worth it to train in Loughborough and have access to such incredible facilities and be around elite athletes in the same facility,” she says.
Now she hopes to perform well at the European Under-20 Championships, which start in Boras on July 18. “British Athletics has cultivated a great mindset in the junior team. The team management were so helpful out in Mannheim. Everyone is chatty to each other and positive and it’s lovely to see and I think it’s reflecting in the performances because the whole team out in Mannheim did amazing performances with lots of PBs.”
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New U18 World Record #200m for Amy Hunt in 22,42 sec at #juniorengala (Photos Part II) For more Official Photos of the Junioren-Gala follow @event.fotos . . #juga19 #Mannheim #iaaf #trackandfield #athletics #mtgmannheim #leichtathletik #bwla @mtg.mannheim @dlv_online #dlv #britishathletics #britishathletes @a.myhunt
She is not sure which event to race in Boras, though. “The timetable doesn’t lend itself to doubling up,” she says, adding that she now has a similar dilemma over whether to extend her season to try to make the team for the IAAF World Championships in Doha.
Such is her age, she can still race at the next European Under-20 Championships in Tallinn in 2021 too.
» See the latest issue of AW magazine for more on Amy Hunt