RW Interviews: Jeanette Kwakye

With injury worries behind her, the British 60m record holder is ready for a storming comeback this season


Posted: 4 April 2011

Jeanette Kwakye
Credit: Getty Images

It's only five months until the World Championships in South Korea, and one athlete raring to be in the starting blocks is Jeanette Kwakye.

The World Indoor Championship silver medallist and British 60m record holder is training and racing hard again after two years beset by injury. After making the 100m finals at the Beijing Olympics - the first British woman to do so since 1984 - you can bet she'll be putting up a good fight in front of the home crowds in 2012.

We caught up with the bubbly 27-year-old (she calls her red-soled Nike track shoes her 'running Christian Louboutins') at the start of the indoor season. Jeanette revealed her comeback hopes and how it feels taking on teen threat Jodie Williams.

You've experienced a lot of injury problems in your career. How have you coped with this?

I had injury problems from 2004 to 2006, but I think that was just when my body was getting used to running that quickly. I managed to get over that and obviously I had some great years leading up to 2008. Unfortunately, in the last couple of years I've had a really nasty knee injury. It's just part and parcel of being a runner. Once you're over that, you can definitely move on and just go out and compete, and that's what I'm doing right now.

How have you felt watching rather than competing in big meets over the last couple of years?

It has been heartbreaking, but it's also good for future motivation. Last year everyone did amazingly well at the European Championships in Barcelona and it makes you want to be out there with them. I've got to keep it going and represent women sprinters. I'm training now, I'm feeling pretty good and I'm looking forward to the season ahead.   

How did you overcome the bad times?

That's where your support team come in. I could turn to my mum and my registered psychologist Sasha and vent whenever I was feeling low. They also helped to keep me super motivated.

So it's back to full training then?

Absolutely, I'm feeling great both mentally and physically. I'm able to do everything that I was doing when I did well two years ago, so the signs are good. Hopefully I can keep healthy and carry on improving until 2012.

Where are you competing this year?

I'm competing indoors in January and February and then I'll take it from there. [Jeanette won the South of England Championships in January 2011 and finished third at the Aviva Indoor UK Championships in March]. There's a short indoor season, followed by the big championships. It's the IAAF World Championships in Daegu in Korea in August. I've been there a few times already and I love it, so hopefully the location will be kind to me and I'll be able to run well.

What's it like having a threat to your title of fastest British woman in the form of teen sprinter Jodie Williams?

It's good that there's domestic competition. She's young and she's keen, and I love that because it pushes everyone else to do well. That's how you get an excellent crop  of sprinters. It's a bit boring when there's just one person dominating and you really want that competition, so I'm looking forward to racing her.

Can you tell us a little about your diet?

At the moment I'm really focusing on recovery. There's common misconception all runners must carb load and eat loads of pasta. Unfortunately, when I do that I put on loads of weight, so I've got to be really sensible and eat carbohydrates at the right time - just after training. In the evening I stick with fruit and vegetables and I have a lot of protein, mostly chicken and turkey, it's the staple of my diet.

What else can't you eat?

I have to be careful about sugar loading. My nutritionist would tell you that I have a hormonal insulin response. I don't want to get too technical, but the more sugars I take, the harder it is for me to keep my weight at a sensible level to compete and train. I've just got to stay away from sweet things or at least just keep my sugars natural, so I get them from fruit. At the moment one of my favourite breakfasts is natural yoghurt with blueberries and oats. I love it and it's better for me than eating sugary granola.

What's the biggest sacrifice you've had to make for your running?

It's hard to say because I've been doing it so long and everything I do has been directed towards it. My university choices were based around running, even my friendship and relationship choices were affected by it. I've never really regretted anything but I suppose as a 28-year-old woman there have been sacrifices in terms of a social life and a relationship element, but that can wait.

You must miss being able to go out clubbing whenever you want...

That probably is my biggest sacrifice! At the end of the season you can go out and I had a really good time in Miami a couple of years ago. I love to party and boogie, but when it comes to training, I've know I've got to be serious and work hard.

Do you have an ultimate training tip for our readers?

Train with music as it helps keep you motivated. My favourite music is house - it just doesn't stop and as long as the beat keeps going, I will too. I love all the big DJs around at the moment, I love Swedish House Mafia and stuff like that. I'll put a mix tape on for an hour when I'm at the gym. My second tip is to always have a goal.

What did competing in the Beijing Olympics mean to you?

It was a big deal. When you're the fastest kid in the playground, you can only dream of going to the Olympics. When you get there, walk onto the start line and stand in the blocks, you're just thinking, Wow, I'm living the dream. Once that dream is over you've got to look for another one. Hopefully my next dream will come true in two years times.

What are your hopes for 2012 and the London Olympics?

The sky's the limit. You dream as a child of going to the Olympics and that's one box I ticked in 2008. When it's a home Olympics the dream is ten times bigger. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, it sounds like such a cliché, but it actually is. I want to go there and just do my best on the day. Hopefully, in 2012 I'll be one of the best sprinters in the world. I need to make sure I'm ready and everything starts falling into place now, so I don't have to face disappointment in a year's time. 


Previous article
RW Interviews: Helen Clitheroe
Next article
Runner's World Uncut: Carl Lewis

 
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this article

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.