Women's Sport: Sophie McKinna turns down British Athletics funding to continue pursuing dual careers

17th IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 - Day Seven

For British Champion Sophie McKinna, being the number one ranked shot-put thrower in the country is only part of what she does. The 25-year-old combines working as a custody detention officer with an athletics career, influencing her decision to decline funding.

At the World Championships in Doha last year, McKinna produced a lifetime best throw of 18.61 to qualify for the shot put final, becoming the first British woman to reach this feat in 36 years. 

In making the final, McKinna secured the qualification standard for Tokyo 2020. Predictably, her performance in Doha caught the eye of British Athletics who included McKinna on the world-class programme (WCP).

Though, when offered a place on this year's British Athletics' WCP, McKinna chose not to accept - ahead of the Olympic year. This decision allows her to continue juggling her day job at the Norfolk Police Investigation Centre in Great Yarmouth, with athletics.

By not taking up the offer, McKinna will miss out on a £15,000 grant and support within British Athletics such as access to national coaches, medical services, and training support. Though, when speaking to the BBC, McKinna explained the benefits of having a job away from the shot-put circle.

"I can go into work, become the work side of my life and not worry about athletics. That personally is very important," she said.

"I don't think I could be a full-time athlete, it would drive me insane to be worrying about it all the time."

McKinna's role as a custody detention officer involves caring for detainees whilst their cases are being investigated. She said: "It's a different sort of pressure working in that environment.

"Working with the kind of people I do, you realise actually it can be quite dangerous and anything can happen.

"It doesn't matter who I am or what I have done in my athletics career, people will treat me exactly the same as everyone else who works there."

This is not the first time she has been offered a place on the WCP. Towards the end of 2013, McKinna was funded by British Athletics for the season ahead.

"You have a regular income every month which is fantastic, but sometimes it is not about the money, you need the support of people within British Athletics," she said.

"Back then, I didn't feel like I necessarily got that support."

This summer, McKinna will hope to compete at the Olympic Games for the first time in her career. Despite being self-funded, she is well on her way to booking her place on the plane to Tokyo.

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