Tuesday, 27 June 2017 12:50

BRITISH TRIALS - OLYMPIC BRONZE MEDALIST HENRY GUNNING FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LONDON

Written by Connor Craig-Jackson
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Desirèe Henry instagram images Desirèe Henry instagram images
There are very few cases, especially in sport, when being compared to tumbleweed can be a positive reflection of an athlete’s high sporting pedigree.

However, when the tumbleweed in question contains numerous world class athletes relentlessly gathering major medals and records, Olympic bronze medallist Desirèe Henry is more than happy to be whisked firmly into the mix.

The British sprinter currently trains in the Netherlands as part of the aptly named “tumbleweed team” formed by coach Rana Reider, allowing her to train regularly with the likes of reigning world 200m champion Dafne Schippers.

“My coach Rana and all athletes have always gone to different training bases,” explains Henry, “from America to Europe and all around the world everybody’s followed Rana. So once you’ve done that you’re part of the tumbleweed team, which just means that we move from place to place but we always get the job done."

“(Dafne’s) a really easy going girl and the fact that we can have a laugh makes it much easier to train with her and to take of the pressure of the hard sessions we know we’re about to have.”

Over the past year the 21-year-old has rubbed shoulders regularly with the very best in the world at high calibre events such as the various Diamond League meetings. However, it was the 2016 Rio Olympics that saw Henry truly take her place amongst the elite of athletics.

RelayLille

“I’d obviously never been to the Olympics and I tell you that was one competition that is like no other.” recalls Henry, “You’re not just seeing one or two top athletes like at the Diamond League but it is literally the best in the world coming together at this one venue to take a medal. So just being sucked in and being out there in that environment I could only embrace it and just enjoy it."

“Even In the semi-finals I was up against Elaine Thompson and Blessing Okagbare and I just remember thinking ‘Desirèe you’ve earned the right to be here just like any other athlete just go out there and execute it’.”

However, the Olympics not only saw Henry compete but the also saw her, along with Dina Asher-Smith, Asha Philip and Daryll Neita, emerge as part of the British relay team that won bronze in the 4x100m race and become the fastest ever British women’s team in 41.77 seconds.

“It’s been absolutely amazing not just for me but for the rest of the girls,” she said, “with it being our first Olympics we could all come together as young individual women and come away with a medal."

“We’re all extremely young in this sport and I think that because we’re all around 21 and 22 we haven’t shown our best so far."

“We’ve started at a good place in terms of getting a bronze but if we all collectively continue to train hard and continue to get faster individually then at our prime ages I think we could be unstoppable.”

The next step on their journey to invincibility therefore lies at the London World Championships in August, which gives Henry the chance to compete in the same venue that saw her light the Olympic Cauldron in 2012.

“I think it will be an amazing opportunity,” she said, “from watching the Olympics when I was younger to now being able to go into the stadium again for a World Championship it’s kind of like a 2012 Olympics do-over in the sense that I wasn’t able to be there on the track but now I’m old enough and hopefully more experienced enough to be there and compete with the best.”

The World Championships could also brew up a much different and bigger cauldron in the form of 60,000 loud British fans creating a huge arena of noise and excitement.

This is a prospect has not been taken lightly, with the support from the crowd often proving key for many athletes when under pressure, which includes Henry.

“That’s something that I like to embrace,” she said, “the last City games I was at in Newcastle was the last race of that season so I was extremely tired, but once I got onto the line and heard people screaming my name it made me believe I could dig deep and pull out another big performance and of course it made a massive effect because I was able to pull out a national record over 150m.”

Ultimately, 2017 holds much to look forward to for the Enfield & Haringey athlete, as she prepares for a highly anticipated home-coming to take centre-stage in her first ever Senior World Championships.






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