Thu, 17 Dec 2020
NEWBURY hammer thrower Charlotte Payne has ended the year in fantastic style as she has earned a membership of the Olympic Futures Academy programme for 2021.
The 18-year-old is one of 10 new additions to the programme, with a total of 62 athletes and para-athletes selected.
It’s been a difficult year for Payne, with a lot of competitions cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but she is remaining positive for what the new year will bring.
She said: “The Olympic Futures Academy Programme has been one of my biggest goals for the past couple of years and being selected has been a huge motivational boost to carry me through the rest of my winter training.”
The two national lockdowns have provided the hammer thrower with some challenges and as a result, she is more determined than ever to succeed.
Payne said: “The first lockdown landed just as the 2020 athletics season was starting so I needed to make sure I could maintain my technique as we were hoping competitions would be able to continue when the lockdown lifted.
“After lots of asking around, I was super fortunate an amazing local couple offered to lend me their field to throw in, amusing the locals on their daily walks nearby.
“Lockdown 2 was slightly less stressful as my 2020 season had finished and I was less worried about my technique and more focused on improving my strength.
“I am so grateful to the people who supported me as it made my transition back to full-time training between lockdowns so much easier.”
Payne won silver in the women’s hammer with a mark of 63.92 metres at the Müller British Athletics Championships in Manchester back in September, moving to second in the UK all-time U20 rankings behind Sophie Hitchon.
Speaking about the silver medal success, she said: “There wasn’t too much pressure to medal at those championships as I was the youngest by almost 10 years.
“As it was the biggest competition we had this year, I was quite nervous and the Covid rules in place were disorientating – I’ve never competed in an empty stadium before.
“Over the years, I’ve learnt how to manage my nerves and hopefully my performance here was a sign my tactics are working
“I believe my medal at these championships was a huge contributor to my place on the Olympic Futures Programme as it proved I can hold my own among senior competitors.”
With Payne moving up in the rankings, it only gives her that drive to become better in the sport.
She said: “When I see my spot on the rankings, I find it motivating as I look towards the distance I need to chase next.
“I have another year to throw a couple more metres to beat the distance Sophie threw in my age group.
“Sophie won bronze at the Olympics, so to see I am throwing similar distances is a huge motivation for me as I hope it’s something I can achieve myself in the future.”
As the year draws to a close, and despite it being an interrupted schedule, the former Newbury AC member has a lot to look forward to in 2021.
“2021 could be very exciting,” she said. “Hopefully, I’ll have the European U20 Championships held in Tallinn, Estonia, in July and the World U20 Championships held in Nairobi, Kenya.
“I’ve already thrown the qualification distances so I can focus on my technique rather than ensuring I qualify so it's a bit less stressful.
“Next year, I want to prepare as best I can for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. I have a few more metres to go to qualify, but it’s not far off.”