12 December 2022

Yemi Mary John: “I want to develop as an athlete and person”

Yemi Mary John says she has never been more confident after enjoying a red-hot rise throughout 2022.

The 19-year-old from Woodford achieved the biggest result of her career to date this summer, playing her part in a stellar summer for British athletics with 400m victory at the World Under-20s Championships in Cali. Earlier on in the year she also raced alongside the best of Britain at the UK Indoor Championships in her debut senior competition, another milestone that proved she was on the right track.

Yemi at SportsAid One-to-Watch event

Those results led to her being nominated for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch award – back and bigger than ever after a three-year absence to celebrate Britain’s brightest sporting prospects – and Yemi Mary admits her successful season has significantly boosted her confidence.

She said: “Two of the most prominent moments this year have been firstly the indoors, my first senior races. That was certainly one of my biggest achievements this year and of course World Under-20s Outdoors and winning that was definitely one of my greatest achievements.

“I was just so ecstatic after that, I was really happy with myself. It was just hard work so I felt it was very well deserved because I worked very hard this year to make it happen. I was very happy with that outcome!

“It definitely pushed me a lot and gave me a lot of self-belief. I think the jump from last year to this year was definitely quite big for me so it definitely motivated me and made me believe in myself that there is a lot more to come.”

Previous winners of SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award, including Tom Daley OBE, Hollie Arnold MBE, Courtney Tulloch and Alex Yee MBE, have already amassed over 50 senior medals from Olympic and Paralympic Games, World and European Championships, as well as Commonwealth Games, to establish themselves as household names.

SportsAid support has proven vital for Yemi Mary in the early stages of her career, and she hopes it can help her make an even bigger mark over the next few months. She added: “This last year in particular, I wasn’t sponsored or funded otherwise, so SportsAid definitely helped me cover expenses including travel, which is a big thing for me.

“I went from Nottingham to Loughborough every training session last year which was quite a long journey so it definitely helped me cover expenses in that sense. It gave me support from a different entity that wasn’t specifically from anyone at the track - so it was very helpful!

“I just want to keep making my mark in the senior team and establishing myself in the NCAAs, and just become not only the best I can be on track but just the best person I can become, and taking as much from the sport as I possibly can to just develop both as an athlete and as a person.”

SportsAid’s Celebrate the Next event, kindly supported by Royal Bank of Canada, was hosted at Sea Containers House in London thanks to Hogarth Worldwide. Please visit to find out more.