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My life as a UCL elite athlete, part 2

12 June 2012

UCL Law student Abigail Irozuru describes the challenges and rewards of being a UCL Elite Athlete.

Defeat versus Success

Recently, I competed at my first ever Grand Prix – an international athletics event held at Birmingham Alexander Stadium featuring the best athletes in the world. I finished a disappointing sixth in the long jump event, jumping 6.30m – the previous weekend having gained a silver medal at the UK Indoor Championships with a personal best distance of 6.44m.

Hidden within the defeat of both competitions is an ever-so elusive scent of success! The fact that I was even selected as one in a field of eight high-class athletes was an achievement in itself – it was my debut outing under such conditions.

Aviv International

I must also mention that it wasn’t a planned competition and my body was fatigued, as it was my fifth consecutive competition of the indoor season. Considering all these factors, this encourages me as I prepare for the Olympics and beyond…  

Support (or lack of!)

From 2009-2011 I was on UKA Lottery Funding, the most beneficial part of it being the medical support that I received. Since September 2011, I have been removed from UKA funding, which obviously makes life a lot more difficult financially, particularly with regards to finding and paying for physiotherapy and other medical treatment.

2009-2011 were actually my worst performance years to date, mainly due to chronic injuries. I did not gain selection to a single international team in 2010 and 2011; although I did remain top three in my age group and top five in the country overall.

It is very competitive to remain on UKA Lottery Funding, which is why athletes rely upon other forms of sponsorship as well. 

Thankfully, I have recently started working with an organisation called Sports4All, where I visit schools across London to inspire and motivate pupils to take up sport ahead of the 2012 Olympics and beyond.

I love that I can be paid to inspire! Going into schools, working with impressionable young students, I aim to be a positive influence in their lives. I would love it if, one day in the future, a young athlete were to credit their introduction to a love of sport to a Sports4All visit!

I am so thankful for the support that I have had since 2007 from Virgin Trains and Adidas UK. And I am sincerely grateful to my newest sponsor, RRG Toyota Salford Quays who have given me a formidable confidence-boost ahead of the start of what will be my most competitive and best outdoor season yet! But I am most thankful for the incomparable moral support that my family and friends have provided which, unlike UKA funding, does not disappear in the hard times, but – conversely – grows giving new life to my dreams and aspirations.