Health & Fitness 'I'll Never Be Embarrassed About Being Strong': Team GB's Shauna Coxsey Has The Olympics In Her Sights
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How are you with heights? Not great? Then don’t look down: climbing has joined the list of sports that we’ll be seeing at this year’s Olympics in Tokyo. Great Britain’s best hope? Shauna Coxsey, the 23-year-old Runcorn-born rock climber who is this country’s most successful athlete in her field.
In any previous years, Shauna would have remained a star in the sport, thriving without the spotlight that the Olympics shines on the more mainstream sports. Now, though, she’s heading to Japan as part of Team GB for the first time, and she has medals in her sights.
Her rise up to this point was made all the clearer as she climbed to the crow’s nest of London’s Somerset House to raise the Union Jack, as part of Team GB’s unveiling of the adidas apparel. Her presence above the streets of London sends a message that you might wish to heed: Shauna, and the whole of Team GB, are ready to ascend.
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How does it feel to be on the verge of your Olympic debut?
I'm really excited. But also super focused on training, of course. And it's such an intense time with training right now. So I'm tired, but in a great way. It just feels like everything is so focused at the minute and it's all coming into play. And it’s still so surreal for me, with climbing heading towards its first game.
How did you feel when climbing’s addition to the Olympics was announced?
It was officially announced in 2016 or 2017, and we were away competing: I had just won my second overall title. It wasn’t a given that I would try to go: it was quite a long process trying to make that decision, and take ownership of that and then decide to go for it. It’s definitely been a journey.
Laviai Nielsen: 'Once I'm On The Start Line At Tokyo, It Will Be So Special'
The sprinter talks to Grazia about a year of Olympic setbacks, having a competitive twin and helping young athletes.But the athletes have been using the extra prep time to their advantage, and sprinter Laviai Nielsen now feels more ready than ever to stand at the starting line in Tokyo in new Team GB adidas apparel. Before they fly off, Grazia talks to Laviai all about her career so far, her inspirations, and what it's like having an identical twin sister [Lina] who also happens to be amazing at running.
How did you handle the mental rollercoaster of the Olympic delays due to COVID?
As an athlete, we face many different challenges: I've been through multiple injuries and come back from them. And I feel comfortable in the uncertainty, in the unknown: it's not something I'm unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with. But it's definitely difficult going through lockdowns, and being part of a global pandemic. But my team are absolutely incredible: they've been so innovative and so passionate about keeping me draining and keeping me motivated. So yeah, I’d be lost without them, for sure.
What was the beginning of your climbing journey?
I saw climbing on the TV, seeing Catherine Destivelle solo climber soloing on the telly, and I said “Dad, I want to do that!” About a year later, we found the local climbing wall and I started at the kids groups with my dad belaying, holding the other end of the rope.
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Do you feel that you’ve had to make sacrifices?
I think for me, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, because it's a conscious choice. I set my goals and I work towards them, and I'm very aware of what it takes to achieve them. I have an incredibly supportive family, incredibly supportive friends, and my other half as well: they all understand what I'm doing and why, and there's never any pressure
How does your dad feel about you going to the Olympics after being part of your journey?
My dad is incredibly proud. And he makes sure that I know it: he's iincredible burden, has been unbelievably supportive and just an excellent father, mentor and coach, unofficially, for most of my career. I really wouldn't be where I am without him. It's sad that he can't be at the games, but he's very pragmatic, so he understands, and he wouldn't want to put anyone's health at risk.
How do you feel about the fact that Olympic greatness could bring you new levels of fame?
I was fortunate that my sport grew to became more in the mainstream as I grew in my career. So I've learned to deal with the media, and I was very passionate from a young age about helping the sport grow in a positive way, and being part of that positive development. So I made a conscious decision to communicate about my sport, to promote it, and to get more people into it. Climbing and being a professional athlete is my job, but not just the climbing bit: promoting the sport as well. I just see it as part of the role that I play.
How do you feel about the improved focus in fitness on strength, over image, especially with women?
I'm not a small athlete: I'm strong, and I am happy to have biceps, to be able to do one arm pull-ups. That's not something I'm ever going to be embarrassed by, and I'm happy to share that. And if that empowers one person, then it's entirely worth it. For me to be able to share my journey, and to have the privilege and the honour to inspire people, is so important.
The adidas Team GB apparel is available at
Lucy Mecklenburgh stuns in a series of perfect wedding guest dresses .
Former TOWIE star Lucy Mecklenburgh decided to play dress up at her Essex home, debuting a series of gorgeous dresses from Coast which are just perfect for garden parties, weddings and nights out. If you want to shop them, we’ve got you coveredTAKE A PEEK: Inside Lucy Mecklenburgh and Ryan Thomas' Essex home with baby Roman