“We're aiming for a medal” says Team GB's Seren Bundy-Davies
It’s been a whirlwind couple of years for athlete Seren Bundy-Davies.
The only Welsh representative in Team GB's 80-strong athletics team for Rio 2016, Bundy-Davies has high hopes as she juggles training for the Olympic Games with studying for a degree in biomedical science.
You were a relative latecomer to athletics – did you think you had the chance of representing Team GB in the Olympic Games?
It was only really in 2015, after indoor and outdoor international success, I really believed I had a good chance of going to the Olympic Games.
2015 was quite a year for you – what are your memories of it and how did it change your life?
I have so many memories from 2015 – I was competing on and off from about February all the way through to September. I’ll never forget winning my first international medal at the European indoor championships, that was a huge breakthrough for me. The 4x400m bronze at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing was another amazing highlight from that year.
How disappointed were you not to be able to compete in the individual event in Beijing at the World Athletics Championships in 2015?
I was disappointed, but after sitting down with my coach after the indoor season, we decided it may be a big ask – I needed international experience but also realised the need to stay injury free for years to come, and hopefully win a 4x400m medal in the relay that year. We chose to target the U23 championships to gain experience (I had never been to a junior championship before this, and it would be the last I would be eligible for) and also to target a 4x400 medal in Beijing. I learnt a lot from both Championships, and don’t have any regrets from that year.
What impact has coach Steve Ball had on your career?
Steve has had a huge impact on my career. Before joining him and the squad, I had no real idea about the sport or how to train for the 400m, I was training once or twice a week at a local club, which was great for introducing me to the sport, but I definitely needed to join an experienced coach like Steve, who had brought through international athletes from club level before. It’s definitely fair to say I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today if it wasn’t for Steve and the squad – they’ve taught me pretty much everything I know about running the 400m.
How much have you learnt from Christine Ohuruogu?
Christine is such a great person to have on the team – experienced, calm and knowledgeable. She taught me how to stay calm before races and it was great to have Christine in the relay in Beijing with us.
Do you feel you get enough support from governing bodies to fund your training and competition?
I’m fortunate enough to be on podium relay funding, after my/our performances at the World Athletics Championships last year. So yes, I feel I get enough support from my governing body. However, I’ve not always had lots of financial support. Most athletes struggle to fund their training and competitions when they are first starting out. I put a lot of time, effort and money into athletics from the winter of 2012 onwards, and I’m lucky enough to now have the support I need to train and compete at a high level.
Have you found sponsorship easy to come by?
Sponsorship isn’t easy to come by if you’re border-line making international teams/championships – but as soon as I had my breakthrough in 2015 (and won my first international individual medal) It was a bit easier to get sponsorship.
How important do you feel it is to do interviews and media work?
It’s nice for people interested in the sport to get an insight into athletes’ lives, and that there’s more to us than just the person who runs around the track, so it’s great to do interviews and media work.
What are your hopes for Rio? What would success look like for you?
Of course, we want to win a relay medal in Rio – there’s no point aiming for anything less.
And I hope to make the individual final. However, if I run a personal best and don’t make the final, I’ll be disappointed but it’s the best performance I could put together so I think that would feel like a success, as I hope to peak by the next Olympics (Tokyo 2020) or even the following Olympics when I’ll only be 29.
How do you think Rio 2016 will change your life?
I have no idea how it will change my life, but I hope its all for the better! I think I’ll gain a huge amount of experience from Rio to take forward to my next Olympics. However I don’t think day-to-day life will change much! After Rio, I’ll be focusing on my third year at university, and after a break, preparing for the world championships in London next year.
How have you managed to juggle studying biomedical science with your training?
Luckily the University of Manchester has been really understanding and supportive when it comes to my degree and training full time as an athlete. It’s always hard around exam time as this often clashes with big athletics meets, but going part time in second and third year has made it possible for me to train near enough full-time whilst studying for my degree. Being disciplined and studying away from home on camps or at competitions is the hardest part about balancing both.