Christmas on a seashore, damage woe and an Olympic medal 10 years late! It was a full of life athletics profession for Nicola Sanders.

One of Britain’s best 400m runners, who reluctantly retired in October 2014 after a collection of accidents, reveals how being a Sky Scholar between 2011 and 2013 was an enormous enhance throughout a really difficult and painful part in her life.

As the Scholarships rejoice eight years since launching, with Sanders one in every of 11 pilot Scholars, the mum of two opens up on discovering peace together with her troubled but superb athletic journey.

“The Scholarship programme got here on the good time for me.

“After a profession excessive on the 2007 World Championship the place I gained silver and then a European Indoor gold, I was hit by damage in 2008 and 2009 and hadn’t fairly reached my potential and frustration was setting in.

“My coach Tony Lester approached Sky about supporting us and they not solely agreed to help us in our journey to 2012 however they determined to roll it out throughout a number of sports activities and the Sky Scholarship programme was born. I wish to assume I was the inspiration!

“When I turned a Scholar, my athletics was in a tricky place. I was combating my again damage and I needed to begin from scratch, constructing my physique up from the within out to be stronger once more.

“Having the backing and perception of Sky at a time like this actually boosted me and gave me the boldness and perception to hold on and get there.

“One of the primary issues the programme allowed me to do was get away for heat climate coaching extra. I suffered with a number of persistent accidents in my profession however my physique actually benefited from working in hotter climates as my muscle tissues did not need to work fairly so onerous within the warmth.

“Our coaching group often travelled to South Africa for many of January to flee the British winter however within the lead-up to 2012, Tony and I determined we would have liked to maximise this and go away in December, spend Christmas there and come again as ordinary in late January.

“It was powerful to be away for Christmas, nevertheless it was additionally an straightforward determination realizing it will put me in the perfect place for the next season.

“It was unusual being someplace so scorching for Christmas (as much as 40 levels) and I received barely sunburnt on Christmas Eve which was a brand new one for me! There weren’t many decorations up and due to the warmth it did not really feel like Christmas nevertheless it all went OK.

“Christmas day was bizarre! I spent the day alone (other than the cleaner who popped in and left me a biscuit!) and watched boxsets for many of it – Grey’s Anatomy and 24.

“Then I did a Skype name residence and my entire household have been sat around the dinner desk and I was handed from individual to individual. It made me really feel unhappy, however on Boxing Day I was on the observe within the beautiful South African sunshine. More athletes arrived and all of us spent New Year collectively on the seashore which was nice.

“When you might be doing one thing that’s nice to your athletics it does not actually really feel like a sacrifice and I am grateful Sky gave me the chance to place myself in the perfect form I could possibly be.

“Unfortunately 2012 did not show to be a fantastic yr. My again damage continued and I needed to withdraw within the warm-up from the European Championships which was my final likelihood to qualify for the person 400m on the London Games. So it was simply the 4x400m relay occasion on the Olympics for me.

“I was in actually good condition in London. I had a fantastic coaching camp and was excited to be a part of the relay squad. Unfortunately I did not get picked for the ultimate group and so by no means received to run in that tremendous Olympic stadium.

“Although it did not work out how I needed in London, I recognize Sky’s help and assist on my journey. I know as a group we gave it our greatest shot – my physique simply let me down.

“I had an superb profession to look again on with some large highs. I even finally received my Olympic medal (from Beijing after two groups have been disqualified for doping violations) 10 years late, as a mum of two, in entrance of a house crowd within the London Olympic Stadium!”

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