Athletics: Newham’s Nwofor boosted by coach Christie
- Credit: Archant
Few athletes can boast having an Olympic champion in their corner – but for East London heptathlete Emma Nwofor, it’s making all the difference.
The 22-year-old is coached by Barcelona 1992 gold medallist Linford Christie, hoping the champion spirit rubs off as she prepares to take on the World University Games.
This is not the first time the Newham & Essex Beagles athlete has competed internationally, but this will be her debut on the world stage.
Nwofor acknowledges that being in a set-up alongside professional athletes has allowed her to see the desire that is needed to succeed.
"I feel like it's been such a blessing because in my past and growing up doing so many sports people asked why I was doing that," said Nwofor, who has just completed a year at Arkansas State University studying Sports Administration after three years at Brunel University.
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"I didn't have a lot of belief in myself and Linford just restored that belief and he made me feel like a champion.
"He believes in me which means I have to believe in myself because obviously he's been on that world stage and has been so successful so it's really humbling but at the same time so motivating.
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"It's shown me a different side to athletics, before I didn't really have a taste for what it's like being a professional athlete and the people that am training with now, they're all professional athletes.
"You can see the hunger and you can see the standard, that's what I think was missing from my training which is now there, and it keeps you in check, makes sure you're staying focus."
The Universiade is widely recognised as the second largest multi-sport Games in the world after the Olympics, with over 10,000 participants from more than 150 countries.
More than 80 athletes across nine sports will take their place in Great Britain in Naples, representing institutions from all across the UK.
Nwofor is using the experience in Italy to try and build for the future with one eye on a Great Britain 100m hurdles World Championship spot for Doha.
"My aim really is to try and give my best performance, I haven't competed at a World competition before so I'm going to try and keep my nerves down," Nwofor added.
"I just want to get a solid performance and put my name out there on a world stage and just use this competition to understand how everything works and just experience the competitiveness and hopefully to win.
"For the world championships, the 100m hurdles spot is very much open so hopefully with these Games it will boost my confidence, especially to compete with people that do get fast times consecutively.
"If all goes well I could potentially go to Doha for the 100m hurdles."
*British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. For more information visit bucs.org.uk.