Welcome to Susanna Banjo’s first Fast10 blog of 2021, talking about aspirations, progression and being self-coached. 

My dream was always to compete at the Olympics from the age of 5 years old, not knowing what it would take or how many years it would take to get there.

Throughout my school years I regularly won sports days and was considered the “fastest” often beating the boys as well as the girls.
Then going on to win a Bronze medal in 2007 at County level. I thought my pathway to the Olympics would be a progressive transition, but there is more to the Sport than just training and competing. It’s also about who you have around you and how those people are helping you to achieve your goals.

By 2016, I’ve seen three Olympics go by and it was time to take action, I decided to coach myself for three seasons.

Self-coaching shows promise

The main reasons for being self-coached was not being able to find the right coach or training environment and I also wanted to be in control of my own destiny.

I improved my personal best time in the 400m from 56 secs to 54 secs, which I was proud of but after the initial excitement of studying the coaching side of the sport and writing my own programmes. I missed interacting with others.

I knew that I could no longer live a secluded life if I wanted to be in the next Olympics. I needed to be around people, experience something different. I needed to ask for help! I needed support!

The decision was made to go and train in South Africa and I know many people saw it as a random move but, I’ve always wanted to train in Africa and experience a different way of life. I was so grateful to have found my sponsors Performance Plus Sport and their Director James Feaver.

They gave me the opportunity I was looking for, to try something different, they have helped me to keep believing in myself.
Performance Plus Sport is a charity that helps support sportspeople who wouldn’t normally have the opportunities.

New location and new opportunities

I have a great mentor, former International Tennis player John Feaver and I also mentor young athletes, which brings me great joy to encourage young people to keep believing in their dreams.

Performance Plus Sport also help by taking away the financial pressure that is required to be able to reach the highest level of Sport.

I have been based in South Africa since the end of 2018 with a great training group and coach Hennie Kriel. I have progressed even further, running a PB of 53.49 secs and competing for England in the 4x400m for the first time in 2019.

At 31, still improving and getting closer to my goals, I now realise and understand the importance of having people around you.

Support is the Key! Follow my journey this year and I’ll update you on my progress next month.