21st January 2014

Jeanette Kwakye Hangs Up Her Spikes

23 January 2014

Jeanette Kwakye, GB & NI’s fourth fastest female 100m runner of all time, announced her retirement from the sport last week following a career that saw her finish sixth in the 100m at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and clinch world indoor silver over 60m in the same year.

The 30 year old explained that there were a number of factors that led her to decide to hang up her spikes.

“It was a combination of things actually,” she said. “I’ve suffered injury in the past but I wasn’t injured anymore, I just felt it was the right time.

“I think it’s important that the sport doesn’t retire you and if I’d gone on to compete at Rio, I just wouldn’t have been able to offer the commitment and level of training required to compete with the best. I made the decision that I’d had my best days and I was happy with that – it was time to move on.”

Kwakye can at least look back on a career with plenty of highs and the unique experience of competing in an Olympic final is something that she holds dear.

“Beijing 2008 is definitely my fondest memory. Making an Olympic final was something quite special. Also, my British record was fantastic over 60m. They’ll remain the standout moments of my time in the sport.”

Retiring from athletics has inevitable effects and the Woodford Green with Essex Ladies athlete has mixed feelings as she moves away from the sport.

“I think I will definitely miss the fitness level. I miss that now – I can tell already that it’s gone down; as soon as you stop it just drops. I’ll be sad to lose that amazing shape; it takes a lot to reach the level of fitness I was at.

“I won’t miss the training. I’m actually enjoying having a nice break from it all and my body is enjoying the rest too.”

Kwakye is enthusiastic about the future of British women’s sprinting though and believes there are a group of five young athletes with the potential to be future stars and with the Rio 2016 Olympics on the horizon.

She continued: “I always say this; I’ve got my fabulous five, I love them. Ashleigh Nelson most definitely, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith, Annie Tagoe and Asha Phillip. Those are my five, 100%. If they ever need me, they’ve got me on the other end of the phone, it’s never a problem.

“It’s so hard to predict what will happen in Rio because it’s all about who comes up at the right time. I would love the 4x100m relay girls to build on their success from last year’s World Championships, so I think they would be a nice addition to some of the world class performers we’ve got already. I’ll put my hands up for them.”

With her career on the track now in the past, Kwakye is looking ahead to the next stage of her life and a career in journalism beckons for the six-time British champion.

“I’m looking at going into journalism hopefully, with more of a focus on radio and broadcast journalism. I want to make sure I do everything properly, so I’m looking at all the different avenues and channels I could use to get me there.

“It’s scary really, moving from one thing to another. But I’m taking the same focus and commitment that I had in track and field as I move into a new career – so if I can do that, I should be alright.”