Holly Mills at the Championships
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Take A Step Back


Sometimes a fresh start is needed. You need to stop, take a break, step back and evaluate your situation. That isn’t giving up, its growth. You have to realise what you really need and want in order to move forward. That’s what I did.

My 2018 athletics season was my worst to date. It was a mental and physical struggle and as an athlete, sent me to breaking point several times over the season. I wasn’t myself while I was competing, and no matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to come together for me.

After success in the long jump in previous years, becoming the 2016 European youth long jump champion, and claiming gold in the 2017 commonwealth youth games long jump, expectations for me to dominate long jump, not only on a national scale, but also international scale were high. I expected highly of myself also, which made the fall even harder. I solely focused on long jump the entire 2018 season, competing here, there and everywhere, constantly chasing the world junior qualifying standard, and always falling short. I should’ve been able to easily jump the standard, but by the time selection for worlds came, I was still 2cm short of the 6.25m magic mark. However, because of my previous championship success, I was selected to compete in the long jump for Great Britain at the world juniors in Finland. This competition, although I didn’t think so at the time, would become the turning point in my athletics career.

 I bombed out. I didn’t even make it out of the long jump qualifying round.  A season of struggling mentally to compete and physically to jump far, was finished with a devasting 17th place at the world championships. I was beyond gutted. Sport really can break your heart.

 I had fallen out of love with athletics, my enjoyment for competition was stale and I felt lost in an event I had always conquered. At that moment in time I felt like the entire season had been a massive failure.

 But you never fail. You learn.

 And now I am beyond grateful to have gone through that 2018 season, and been at my lowest point in athletics. Because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today. I am thankful to have experienced failures, because it allowed me to stop, take a break, step back and evaluate my situation.

That’s when I made the decision. I didn’t want to be solely a long jumper. I decided my future was in heptathlon.

I wasn’t giving up on long jump. I was opening new doors in order to release my true potential.

And it was scary.

A fresh start is what I needed. I started at Brunel University in September 2018. I changed coaches and started training for multi events. I am coached by Laura Alleyne-Turner, Frank Attoh and Rafer Joesph, a team, who in very little time, have bought me a long way.

A year ago I started my transition to be a heptathlete.

A year ago I was a completely different person to who I am today.

It has in no way been easy, and I still have an extremely long way to go, but taking a step back and realising what I wanted has been the best thing I have ever done.

Over the past year of training and competing in multi events, I have fallen back in love with the sport. The pure enjoyment I get out of competing is indescribable. The feeling of hunger every day to train to the best of my ability, and the satisfaction of completing each session is what it is all about.

My mentality towards training and competition is worlds apart from a year ago. I am mentally and physically stronger than I have ever been. And this is reflected in my performances. My 2019 season, despite going through the biggest change of my life so far, moving to Uni, changing coaches and becoming a multi-eventer, has been my best season ever.

I achieved a personal best in all 7 events this year, and even though my focus is spread over so many disciplines, my long jump has dramatically improved. I jumped a PB of 6.51m, a jump that would’ve won the gold at the world junior championships the previous year. I got the bronze in the European junior long jump, just a day after finishing 4th in my second ever heptathlon at the European championships in Sweden this July.

It was challenging, and scary, making the change, but beyond worth it. I am excited to continue learning and progressing through my career in athletics as a heptathlete.

It’s important to take a step back. Sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.


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