Currently balancing training for the Commonwealth Games with the final year of a law degree, Newham athlete Finette Agyapong deserves all the praise she gets. Finette’s hard work has now been recognised by SportsAid after she was shortlisted for the charity's prestigious One-to-Watch Award.
The Brunel University student was selected to represent Team England in the 4x400m relay on the Gold Coast next year after being crowned European Under-23s 200m champion, setting a personal best of 22.86 seconds. Finette could potentially join a list of high-flying winners, as double Olympic medallist Tom Daley won the inaugural SportsAid’s One-to-Watch Award in 2006 and five fellow recipients competed at the Rio Games.
With so much on her plate, Finette is delighted to have been recognised for her achievements, emphasising that international athletics glory does not come easily. “The best thing about it is that I think a lot of people don’t see how much work you put in as an athlete, they just see the finished product,” said the 20-year-old, who receives SportsAid support from Caesars Entertainment.
“It’s difficult balancing my degree and training, right now it’s quite difficult because I’ve got my dissertation and coursework on top of everything. I’ve got exams at the end of the year, there’s a lot going on right now so it’s about time management and getting everything done as soon as possible – especially because Commonwealths are next year.
“I didn’t expect it, I knew about the awards and some of the people who’ve been shortlisted in the past but I never thought I’d be one of those athletes. But there’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes because I actually train by myself at university – I’ve been doing that for the past two years because my coach is on the other side of London.”
Finette is one of 10 nominees selected from over 1,000 rising British stars supported by SportsAid across more than 60 different sports, with the winner presented at the charity’s annual SportsBall on November 23. Dame Katherine Grainger, Britain’s most decorated female Olympian, and five-time Paralympic champion Natasha Baker are among the panel of judges for the award.
The young athlete admitted it had been a surreal year, but she is already looking to the future, excited to see what can be achieved in Australia competing for Team England alongside the likes of Olympic medallists Dina Asher-Smith and Asha Philip. “This year has been above and beyond what I expected, there’s been ups and downs but it’s been really exciting,” Finette added.
“It’s weird to think that without the funding, none of this would have happened but because of the support it’s been really good. It’s so important to have the support of SportsAid especially because at the start of my career it was quite difficult to gather funds to go to training camps, for example there was one in Florida.
“I’m expecting the Commonwealths to be amazing, I’ll hopefully gain good experience competing at such a high level. I’m hoping I’ll learn from the other athletes, because I’ll be around some experienced people and that’s who I want to be around.”
The winner of SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award will be revealed at the charity’s annual SportsBall in London on Thursday 23 November. All the funds raised from the SportsBall help to support the next generation of British athletes. Please visit www.sportsball.org.uk for ticket information.