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Heptathlete Mills aims for Commonwealth gold

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Former Clere School student Holly Mills believes the Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 30, could be “a real breakthrough moment” for her.

Mills, who competes in the heptathlon, will test herself against some of the world’s best athletes in front of a home crowd in Birmingham.

“The fact that it’s a home Games makes it just that little bit more magical,” she said.

“You do all this hard training and it’s a chance to go and showcase what you’ve been working on.

“The closer it gets, the more excited I get, I can’t wait.”

Holly Mills
Holly Mills

Mills will have to beat Commonwealth and World champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson, who stormed to gold in Brisbane in 2018.

“I’m going there to get the gold,” she said.

“I never put myself in a position where I’d go just to finish second or third.

“It’s going to be an incredible experience that I’m determined to make the most of.”

The 22-year-old won long jump gold medals at the European Athletics Youth Championships in Tbilisi in 2016 and the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas in 2017 before making the switch to heptathlon in 2018.

She said: “I got to around 18-years-old and I’d been doing long jump for 10 years, since I was eight.

“I’d started to plateau and the fire inside me went out a little, I wasn’t quite as passionate and I was getting more frustrated.

“That’s when I realised it was time for a new challenge with more than one event.

“I love working hard, slogging it out, so I decided to add six events and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Mills, who trains for 40 hours a week, describes the stresses and strains of heptathlon as “extremely demanding”.

“I’ve worked so hard to become as robust as possible,” she said.

“I’ve realised that the mental side of heptathlon outweighs the physical side.

“You can be in the best physical shape possible, but if you haven’t got it mentally to pull yourself through, you won’t succeed long term.”

Mills narrowly missed out on qualification for the Tokyo Olympics – she reached the B qualification mark, 6,184 points, in Lana, Italy in April, 2021.

That result moved her into the all-time top eight of British heptathletes.

“It was a huge step for me, it was my third ever heptathlon, it proved I’m serious and I’m here to stay.

“It gave me a massive confidence boost and made me believe I can be a world class heptathlete.”

The Commonwealth heptathlon takes place between July 2 and 3 and comprises the 100 metre hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 metres, long jump, javelin and 800 metres – Mills is hoping seven really is the luckiest number.

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