Written by Myles Edwards in Iten, Kenya.
The first in a series of in depth interviews with Aberdeen Athletic Club members features under 17 middle distance star, Becky Cheyne. Cheyne chats to Myles Edwards about her aspirations for the coming years and what it is that drives her to succeed in the sport.
Born in Aberdeen in 1997, Becky tells us how she first got involved in athletics:
“My first ever race was a Primary Schools event at Chris Anderson Stadium (now Aberdeen Sports Village). I was in Primary 5 and managed to come 4th in the 800m. Although I missed out on a medal, I was very proud of myself because my only other races had been at school sports days.”
This race planted a seed within Becky which continues to spur her on today as she then went on to compete in all Active Schools events from 2007-2010 and scooped 1st age group place in every Race for Life from 2007 through to 2009. She hopes to return to the Race for Life event this year as she has missed the past few due to other commitments.
Now coached by the legendary Grant Smith, Becky has won ‘Athlete of the Week’ three times since the introduction of the award in November 2011. Becky says:
“I am proud of this achievement because it shows that I am improving and heading in the right direction. I think the introduction of this award means that secretly we all strive to do better and that our performances are recognised.”
Coached by Grant Smith since 27th June, 2011, she goes on to describe the influence that Grant has on her progress and that of others in the group:
“Grant is a good coach for many reasons. He emails our workouts to us beforehand so that we know what times we have to improve on. He also emails us our times following the session so that we can write them in our diaries and make comparisons with similar sessions from the past.
“He also gives us little tips on how to improve our running styles and techniques. He is always happy to help and never pushes us too far, he just goes with our abilities instead of pushing us to breaking point. He’s always happy, encouraging and positive.”
With personal bests of 2.49.1 and 5.56.2 for 800 and 1500 metres respectively, Becky aims to improve on both of these marks this season off the back of some great training over the winter months.
Cheyne goes on to tell us why athletics is the sport which she most enjoys:
“Athletics is my favourite sport because nobody judges you, every member of Aberdeen AAC is very friendly and welcoming. The sport itself is very enjoyable – you can run from anywhere, for whatever distance and for whatever reason. You can also use it to take your frustrations out on really well. If I’m annoyed, I simply think – ‘I will show them’ – and therefore run better because of it.
“I prefer athletics to team sports purely because my hand-eye co-ordination is a bit skew-whiff! However, I do still consider athletics to be a team sport as everyone is in the same club. Also, in relays we are a team – even if you’re not picked to be in the squad of 4 you will still get a buzz from cheering everyone else on.”
Keen to find out what drives Becky to train harder and harder week in, week out, I ask who it is that inspires her:
“My Mum, Denise is without a doubt the person who inspires me most as it was not so long ago that she ran for Scotland. Kelly Holmes is someone who I also greatly admire. She didn’t have the best start to life and didn’t even like running to begin with. Despite this, she never gave up and in the end her hard work produced two gold medals in the same Olympics and also got her a knighthood.
“I admire the attitudes of athletes such as Derek Redmond who battle through severe pain to get to the finishing line.” (Redmond famously pulled a hamstring during the 400m semi final at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and had to hobble and be carried by his father for almost 200m to cross the finish line)
Becky goes on to say that she ‘holds athletes in high regard who, despite their talents continue to be modest and support younger athletes’ like herself.’
Next we move on to what Becky feels she can achieve within the sport of athletics:
“I am not certain of exactly what I can achieve but if I keep training well and getting personal best times then I will in myself feel that I have achieved an awful lot.
“I think it would be brilliant to run for Scotland one day, or compete in the Olympic or Commonwealth Games. However, that is not a necessity for me to be satisfied. As long as I know that I can run for as long in life as I want to and that I am a lot fitter and more active than my peers at school, then I will be a happy chappy.”
The next interview will be with middle distance maestro, James Joy as he looks to improve on his 800m personal best of 1.53 from last year.