Maya Bruney won European U20 200m gold last year after some words of confidence from Dina Asher-Smith
European under-20 200m champion Maya Bruney says she has benefited from tapping into advice from training partner Dina Asher-Smith.
Having knocked over one second off her 200m time in 2017, the 19-year-old went into the European Under-20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy, with gold as the target. She recalls: “When I lined up for the 200m final, I knew I was in the best shape I had ever been in, so all I had to do was relax.
“To become a triple medallist (200m gold, 4x100m and 4x400m bronze) and set a European-leading 200m time was a dream!”
What made it extra special for the Blackheath & Bromley Harrier was that the event was in Italy, where her parents are from.
“My mum is Italian,” she explains. “She came to the UK when she was only 19 to learn English. I was born in London but I have dual nationality and I speak Italian fluently. At the European Juniors, my grandparents came and watched me race for the first time and I couldn’t let them down.”
Despite her successes, Maya explains it hasn’t all been plain-sailing going into the event. “Before the European Juniors, I raced at Mannheim and it didn’t go as I had planned! I didn’t execute my race properly and I felt so nervous because the European Championships were around the corner,” she remembers.
The teenager spoke to training partner Asher-Smith, the UK 100m and 200m record-holder, who helped put her at ease.
“Dina knew everything would come together at the right time. I just had to believe in myself. It’s nice to train with someone who is and has been so successful in athletics.”
Maya ran a PB in every round in the European Under-20 Championships to enjoy her biggest win to date, having taken the BUCS title earlier in the season. The Championships was also memorable for another reason too, as Bruney stepped up to the one lap distance for the relay, running 51.7, before taking silver over the same distance in the England Senior Championships a week later.
When it comes to her future, the former English Schools junior girls 100m and 200m champion is keeping her options open.
“I believe I can be good at all sprint events from 60m to 400m,” she says matter-of-factly.
Coached by John Blackie, Maya also credits the strength and conditioning work she has done with Duncan Ogilvie since studying graphic design at the University of East London for her recent improvement.
Inspired by Allyson Felix due to her range and versatility over the sprint distances, the former BRIT School design student also enjoyed meeting Usain Bolt at the World Championships in London, a few days before his final race.
“It was the day I signed my Puma contract. He congratulated me for my achievements and wished me all the best for my future track career. He also signed my dad’s copy of his Usain Bolt 9.58 book,” she explains.