4th March 2022


At the recent Muller Indoor Grand Prix Birmingham and UK Athletics Indoor Championships, Segun Samuel (coach: Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun, club: South London) and Maddie Down (Dominic McNeillis, Halesowen) made their debuts at a major UK televised event. Both are graduates of the British Athletics Street 2Stadium programme which seeks to find budding Paralympic and Olympic stars of the future in schools around the UK.

Samuel in year two of the Street 2 Stadium London programme and joined his club in 2020 after starting the S2S programme. He now represents South London and is coached by Jeffrey Lawal-Balogun, and successfully graduated to the British Athletics Futures Academy for 2022. The nationally classified athlete, T46, continues his journey in the para athletics pathway.

Recently he ran alongside the new British T12 record holder Zac Shaw and Paralympic champion Thomas Young and a host of leading para athletes in the UK at the two meetings, setting a PB of 7.37 at the first meeting.

After the Indoor Grand Prix event, Samuel spoke about his journey from S2S to the Futures programme and competing at a world-class event in Birmingham.

“It’s been a whirlwind two years for me since I started in the sport. It’s been going well – I’m not at the same level as some of these guys right now but I feel with time, I should be able to get there.

“I got involved with the Street 2 Stadium programme through Coral Nourrice who introduced me to my coach, Jeffrey, but she told me to come along and try things out and we would see where I could go from there.

“I’d never tried athletics before getting involved in the programme. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like it at first – but once I got more confident with my starts and getting out of the blocks, I started to enjoy it. I’m glad I stuck with it, and I really like it now.”

Down came through the initiative in Birmingham and is in year three of the programme, starting in 2019. She joined Halesowen in 2021 around the time she was crowned UK School Games champion. The nationally classified T38 athlete has since graduated to the England Athletics Para Talent Pathway as she continues her development in the sport, and is mentored by Paralympian, Dean Miller and World medallist, Hannah England.

She also starred in CBBC’s The Dengineers back in 2018 when she met Sophie Hahn for the first time – who she competed against at the Utilita Arena over the last two weekends. Down recorded a time of 8.46 at the Indoor Grand Prix which was a lifetime best.

Down talked about the experience of competing in front of a large crowd, “It’s a bit surreal. This is my first UK champs and I’m coming out here in front of a home crowd. I’ve been dreaming about it for ages, so I’m pleased it finally happened. It’s been great experience competing against the best.

“I went through the Street 2 Stadium programme over lockdown, so it was a lot of zoom meetings and workouts. It was really nice and a great experience. It was beneficial for me from a social point of view, getting to know the other para athletes. It was nice to meet the other coaches and interacting.”

The British Athletics Street 2 Stadium programme is funded through the SportsAid ‘Backing the Best’ programme.

We will be searching for future Olympic and Paralympic track and field stars in April 2022 living within inner city areas of Birmingham, London and Leeds.

Could you follow in the footsteps of Segun and Maddy? You need to be between 11 and 18 years old and keen to try a new challenge.

Nominations for attending one of our trial days will come directly from high schools within the target catchment areas. Your PE teacher or School Games Organiser (SGO) will let you know if you’ve been invited.

Our team of British Athletics staff will be communicating details of the trial days to all the high schools within the area. They may even come along to your school to coach some athletics and tell you all about the sport.

If you are a pupil, teacher or parent and you’d like your school to be involved, please contact Coral Nourrice: cnourrice@britishathletics.org.uk for more details.

Find out more information on the Street 2 Stadium pages here: https://www.uka.org.uk/performance/street-2-stadium/