Sprinter Daryll Neita a grassroots supporter amid golden ambition at world athletics championships

By Sported |  20 August 2023

Sprint star Daryll Neita insists grassroots sport helped shape her life in a positive way – and it’s a connection she’s delighted to maintain.

The Olympic medallist heads into the world athletics championships in Budapest this week as a contender for medals in the 100 and 200 metres as well as an opportunity for gold in the 4×100 relay.

But the 25-year-old admits she wouldn’t be rising high without the start she got at her local club.

And even now, she is a regular visit to Gmax Trackstars in her native London where getting to train with one of the quickest women on the planet is a source of huge inspiration at a group that uses sport to make a huge difference in the lives of young people – on and off the track.

“I think it’s important,” Neita said. “I think hobbies are important, after-school activities. And the thing about athletics is I have been doing it since I was about maybe eight years old. So it’s been the majority of my life. And I’ve met so many people doing it. It’s really shaped my life,

“I’ve been able to travel the world doing it, to explore so many different cultures, to see so many different things, and it’s made me who I am. And I feel like it’s just such an accessible thing to do: you really do need a pair of spikes, go to your local club, and you can get involved. 

“I always say there’s so many fast people out there, but we don’t know because they never signed up. They never gave it a go. So we never know who they could really be. People don’t even know if they could have been the next great because they never tried it.

“So if we can get people inspired and get people involved and just training – Tuesdays and Thursday to begin with – and then see how you go. You can end up competing for your country and winning medals for Great Britain.

“I think that’s amazing. And we really need to continue on the grassroots.”

Just last month, the Olympic, world and European medallist spent an evening with Gmax, a Sported member, who actively mix athletics and lessons for life to impact on their local community.

A welcome comeback to her old stomping ground in Sutcliffe Park on trips home from her base in Italy, she confirms.

Invaluable, adds the club’s founder Mark Lancaster who admits having Neita as a role medal is a huge boost to their cause.

“The impact of the presence of Daryll at the Gmax sessions is significant as she is a prime example for promoting health, taking the opportunity to be active and socially engaged with other athletes,” he said. “We know lessons learnt in sports can be applied throughout life.

“Daryll has all the traits of a good role model having an altruistic mission. She takes pride in still being active in her community and uses her position of influence to have a positive effect on the Gmax athletes. This helps keep the kids in the game as they can see and be close to success.”

They’ll all be cheering her on in the Hungarian capital, he underlines. A favour returned.

“It is especially exciting for young athletes to see Daryll on television, skilfully mastering her sport as the new track queen,” Lancaster adds. “Discussing with our athletes, we have noted how knowing Daryll is having a great influence on what kids take in as values, how they feel about their training objectives and even their career goals.

“For some kids it may feel as though they are watching a real-life superhero on TV, capable of achievable goals.”

Witnessing the positives that sport can inject into young people will bring back Neita, again and again. Hopefully with more medals in tow.

“I love seeing the kids,” she underlines. “They have always got so many questions. And I just feel like the purpose of me doing what I’m doing is to inspire the next generation and be there to create the future.

“I feel like it’s such an amazing thing that we get to do. And they have to have someone to look up to and I want to be one of those athletes that kids look up to and want to be greater than.

“Because anything’s possible.”

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