SportsAid athlete Theo Etienne is gearing up for the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Serbia later this week having won his first senior medal less than a month ago. The 20-year-old claimed silver in the 60 metres at the British Athletics Indoor Championships as he finished with an impressive time of 6.57 seconds.
Theo, who also competes over 100 and 200 metres, came behind winner Andrew Robertson and ahead of two-time Olympic athlete Dwain Chambers who finished in third position. It was an astonishing feat for Theo, who admits he didn’t expect to qualify for Belgrade, but was aiming to do so having mapped out a plan for the team trials in Sheffield with his coach Ryan Freckleton.
Theo, a runner for Hercules Wimbledon Athletics Club, had shown real signs of his potential a couple of weeks before the trials at an international indoor meet in Jyvaskyla, Finland. He crossed the line in 6.60 seconds, second behind, and became the fourth-fastest British teenager over 60 metres, joining Olympic gold-medallist Mark Lewis-Francis, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Chijindu Ujah.
Theo now trains six days a week after deciding to take sprinting more seriously following London 2012. He received a SportsAid award in 2016 from Altitude Film Entertainment and said he has felt the impact of the charity’s help having not always received ‘regular support’ outside of his training group. Here are a few of Theo’s thoughts ahead of the meet in Belgrade….
What are your feelings now looking back on your success at the British Athletics Indoor Championships? Was it a special moment?
TE: I would say it was a special moment as it was my first senior medal and I don't think a lot of people were expecting me to finish where I did. I'm happy and proud.
Did you surpass your own expectations or did you have ambitions to qualify for Belgrade?
TE: Honestly, no not at all [having ambitions to reach Belgrade]. My coach and I set out a plan to try and qualify for the European Championships and we did just that. However, saying it and doing it are two completely different things, so we were both glad to be able to execute the plan.
How much are you looking forward to competing at the European Athletics Indoor Championships?
TE: I'm excited to a point but I haven't really fully acknowledged yet that I'm actually going so at the moment I'm not 100% hyped about it! But I know that as soon as I get on with the plan, all types of emotions will run through me and I will be beyond excited.
You’d run 6.60 seconds not long before the British Athletics Indoor Championships at a meet in Finland – were you expecting to run such a fast time?
TE: At the time no, but I knew I was in shape so I was more happy than surprised to get that far. I would say that I had a good idea that I was able to pull it off but I didn't think I would get the time that early in the year.
Do you have this summer’s IAAF World Championships in your sights?
TE: Anything is possible if you put the work in and are patient. Right now I'm focused on other goals, but if everything falls into place perfectly or better than expected, then I definitely won’t hesitate to take my opportunity to compete on a world stage.
What are your overall ambitions in athletics?
TE: I’ve always wanted to be a professional athlete but if I had to put it simply, I would like to be running fast, consistent, be healthy and most of all enjoy the sport I compete in. I wish to go far and make people be happy that I represent this country, as well as making a successful career out of it.
How much did London 2012 inspire you as an up-and-coming athlete?
TE: Funnily enough, London 2012 actually inspired me to take athletics seriously and to try and make it as my main career. Before that I didn't take it seriously and I was dipping in and out with athletics and football. I'm happy with what I have achieved so far and hopefully there's more to come.
What will you do to #SupportTheNext generation of British sporting heroes? SportsAid needs your help to ensure talented athletes like Theo can continue receiving the support they rely on. To donate, please text ‘NEXT01 £5’, ‘NEXT01 £10’ or as much as you can give to 70070.