When it comes to sporting idols, Ewell Village athlete Shona Richards has two, starting with Dame Kelly Holmes and ending with dad Tony.
The 18-year-old rising star was named in the Team GB squad for next month’s World Junior Championships after claiming English U23 & U20 Championship 400m hurdles gold in Bedford at the weekend.
The Glyn School pupil, who is studying A-level human biology, psychology and PE, has experience of performing on the international scene having competed in last year’s European Athletics Junior Championships in Italy, clocking 58.96 seconds to finish fifth in the final.
And, having clocked the fastest U20s time so far this year (56.70secs), as well as being the fifth fastest woman overall, Richards is in good form for a shot at world glory in the US next month.
Richards, who comes from a family full of sports fanatics, with both her parents and brothers having run for Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow Athletics Club, said: “My dad has been the biggest influence on my career.
“He was literally the driving force behind me when I was doing cross-country and hated it. He supported me, driving around the country competing.
“He’s always been there and he loves it as well – he followed my brothers when they were running too.
“It’s always been him who has loved the atmosphere and support. He loves it as much as I do.”
She added: “I’ve always looked up to Kelly Holmes in terms of her journey to excellence.
“She is motivated to be the best she can be and she has been determined to do what she has achieved. It’s a real inspiration.”
Richards has not always enjoyed running, but after she found a love for the hurdles, it provided the spark necessary to go to the next level.
“It’s been a long process to get where I am, but there have been lots of little factors involved,” she said.
“Since I’ve competed in new events, I’ve been motivated to do better, it’s not until you realise how amazing competitions are that you truly appreciate it.”
The Nike and Oil Recruitment Limited sponsored athlete added: “My brothers were running for Surrey at county level when they were younger and there was competition among us, without that I wouldn’t have done well.
“I was flabbergasted to make my British debut last year.”
With the Olympics in Brazil only two years away, Richards admitted it would be an amazing opportunity if she was selected.
However, she is keeping her feet firmly on the ground as she prepares for the World Championships in the US, should she make the grade.
She said: “I’m definitely aiming for the Olympics, but I’m just trying to stay as fit as I can and see where it takes me.
“I’m just taking it one step at a time.”