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