Human stories

The British championships and World Championship selection trials produced a number of world-class performances from athletes who will be serious medal contenders in Budapest – Laura Muir, Dina Asher-Smith, Zharnel Hughes, Keely Hopkinson, etc.

But there were also a number of touching stories around the championships. When Charlotte Payne successfully defended her British hammer throw title, few would have known of the challenges that she has faced. When she was diagnosed as a child as “profoundly deaf” and “unlikely ever to be able to speak properly”. Now she is a two-time British champion who gives interviews!

“I’ve never let my deafness define me. At school, I was never the ‘deaf girl; I was the ‘athletics girl’”

Invited to join the UK Athletics Olympic futures program, supported by Nike, proved to be life-changing.

One principle that has guided her life is a determination not to let others decide her future – partly from her parents being told that she was unlikely to achieve much in life. Now she is determined to be a role model for deaf people who are still being told that. She enjoys showing people what can be achieved. Competing in the Olympics is her next big ambition.

The rainy 100m, Reece Prescod, Zharnel Hughes, and Eugene Amo-Dadzie, the world’s fastest accountant (he’s in Green kit), photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

30-year-old Eugene Amo-Dadzie came third in the 100m in 10.18. Don’t take any notice of the time. The race was run in torrential rain with water lying on the track. He has run 9.93 this season. As a promising teenage athlete, he gave up the sport, only returning to it in 2019. Referring to his profession, he likes to call himself “the fastest accountant in the world.” A remarkable story.

Reece Prescod, Zharnel Hughes, Eugene Amo-Dadzie, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

It’s easy to forget another dimension of the national championships, those totally amateur and part-time athletes who have no dreams of World Championships but are thrilled to qualify for the British championship. Tiffany Cox ran a PR of 11.79 in the 100m to come fourth in her heat and advance to the semi-finals.  She told me: “My goal was to make the semi-finals, and I am more than happy with that. I came here in 2019 and did not make the semis. Coming back from injury, my goal was to make the British Championships.  I have already set PBs in 100 and 200 earlier this season”. To find herself racing against Bianca Williams and Amy Hunt shows the opportunities our sport gives for progression.