Norfolk athletes Sophie McKinna and Chris Baker will do England proud on Commonwealth Games duty

Sophie McKinna is looking forward to her Commonwealth Games bow. Picture: James Bass. Sophie McKinna is looking forward to her Commonwealth Games bow. Picture: James Bass.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
9:44 AM

Sophie McKinna is confident she will handle the pressure of representing Team England at next month’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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Dereham high jumper Chris Baker will make his senior Great Britain debut in this weekend's European Team Championships. Picture: Submitted.Dereham high jumper Chris Baker will make his senior Great Britain debut in this weekend's European Team Championships. Picture: Submitted.

The 19-year-old’s place in the 129-strong athletics squad was confirmed on Monday, along with fellow Norfolk athletes Chris Baker (high jump) and Will Smith (1500m T54).

Yarmouth-based McKinna will first compete in the British junior and then senior championships this month before peaking for the biggest meeting of her career.

“I’ve known for about three weeks so it has been hard not to tell anybody,” she said. “You never know what the final decision will be, even though I had the qualifying standard. I am delighted of course and to see your name on the team list with everybody else really brings it home to me that I am actually going, its real and I can finally celebrate it with everyone who has supported me.

“My sole focus now is the Commonwealth Games this season but I do have a couple of key meetings before then - the British Championships this weekend at Bedford and then the seniors the following weekend, so although I have been gearing my training for the Commonwealths these are important as well.”

McKinna’s personal best of 17.12m achieved the ‘A’ qualifying standard for the Commonwealths last season and the teenager revealed a change in her training schedule since was designed to try and eclipse that mark when it really matters.

“I haven’t produced any fantastic distances this season but I feel that is because I have been gearing my training towards peaking at the Commonwealths,” she said. “Normally I perform a bit too early in the season so I have had to change my training. My distances have been fair but nothing to shout about. The distance will come when it needs to. My season’s best is around the 16:40m I think.

“I have my personal expectations and I would really, really like to make the final but championship performing is all on the day. You can have a good or a bad one but I feel I am in the form to throw well, throw big distances and that can put me in the mix for the final and if you make a final then of course you are in with a chance. I am really looking forward to meeting the rest of the team and that whole performance environment.

“I just need to be able to compete under pressure and keep calm on such a big stage.”

• Dereham high jumper Baker leads the rankings in Great Britain this season with 2.28m set in Birmingham earlier this month. The Loughborough University student and Sale Harrier is also poised to make his senior GB debut this weekend in the European Team Championships to be held in Germany.

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