Young ath­lete – Nana Gyedu

Athletics Weekly - - Start -

ENGLISH SCHOOLS CHAM­PION NANA GYEDU IS AIM­ING HIGH, SAYS STEVE ROE “I DIDN’T OPT FOR THE SHOT PUT. MY PE TEACHER SE­LECTED ME FOR IT BASED ON MY PHYSIQUE. ANY­WAY, I WON AND FELT COM­FORT­ABLE”

NANA GYEDU, on her ini­tial foray into field ath­let­ics

ALTHOUGH Nana Gyedu has a bright fu­ture in the shot put cir­cle, her sport­ing prow­ess ex­tends far beyond ath­let­ics. Football, tennis, swim­ming and ice skat­ing – with a good stan­dard reached in all of those – are on this 14-year-old’s CV. Fur­ther­more, she re­cently re­turned from Ire­land af­ter tour­ing there with a Gaelic football club!

Her forte, though, is the shot; and by su­perbly win­ning the English Schools ti­tle with a 13.86m PB in Birm­ing­ham ear­lier this month, she ce­mented her sta­tus as the UK’s No.1 in the un­der-15 girls’ age-group.

A month or so ear­lier, when Nana won the Lon­don Schools Championship, her twin brother Atta won gold medals in the 200m and 4x100m at the same meet­ing. So if Joyce Gyedu is the proud­est mum in south Lon­don right now it is quite un­der­stand­able.

Al­hough Mrs Gyedu and her hus­band Gyan have Ghana­ian roots, their chil­dren were born in Swe­den. They came to Eng­land in 2012 and at that time, as Nana says, she put her sport­ing life on hold to con­cen­trate on adapt­ing to life in this coun­try.

Nana did so very quickly and was soon rep­re­sent­ing Green­wich Schools in ath­let­ics. “I didn’t opt for the shot put. My PE teacher se­lected me for it based on my physique,” she re­calls. “Any­way, I won and felt com­fort­able.”

It was clear Nana would be a field even­ter, for as she re­marks with sear­ing hon­esty. “I don’t have the body of a sprinter.”

More school com­pe­ti­tion suc­cess fol­lowed and with her in­ter­est grow­ing Nana joined Cam­bridge Har­ri­ers, the club which had hosted one of her event vic­to­ries.

With barely an ex­cep­tion since, Nana has con­cen­trated on the shot and dis­cus, though it is the for­mer which takes up most of her time and has given the teenager the greater sat­is­fac­tion.

She was par­tic­u­larly pleased to win the Kent Championship in May. “That was my favourite per­for­mance re­ally,” she says with pride. “It was the first time I had gone over 13 me­tres.”

First Peter Wishart and now John Hil­lier are the coaches who have guided Nana.

Train­ing with Hil­lier at Sut­cliffe Park in Eltham, she is like all of his ath­letes in prais­ing him to the hilt.

“Yes, he is strict on some lev­els,” Nana says, “but no doubt he is a fantastic coach.”

The prin­ci­pal train­ing ses­sion as far as Nana is con­cerned gen­er­ally takes place on a Tues­day evening. A warm up, then drills, tech­nique and weights can be on the menu un­der Hil­lier.

The ex­per­tise of the coach is one thing of course, but hav­ing other qual­ity throw­ers in her group helps, too; one of them is Al­fie Scopes, the cur­rent un­der-20 Kent and South of Eng­land cham­pion.

As far as the re­main­der of the track sea­son goes, Nana is re­al­is­tic. “I would like to reach 14 me­tres this year,” she says.

An­other target for this most level-headed of girls will be achieved, she hopes, at St Paul’s Academy in Abbey Wood next year. Nana will then be tak­ing GCSEs – 12 months ear­lier than is usual it must be stressed – and one of the sub­jects will be Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion.

Nana Gyedu: English Schools

cham­pion

Cam­bridge Har­ri­ers ath­lete Nana Gyedu has shown abil­ity in a va­ri­ety of sports

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