Written by Daniel James Parry
In collaboration with SportsAid, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary at Kensington Palace on Thursday 9 June, The Foxley Docket sat down with one of the charity’s successful award recipients, Isobel Pooley. SportsAid have four decades’ worth of experience in helping the biggest household names in sport in the early stages of their career. Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah, Tom Daley, Bradley Wiggins, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Chris Hoy, Steve Redgrave and Ellie Simmonds are just a few previous recipients of SportsAid Awards.
No exception to this trend, Pooley is a 24 year old athlete with strong prospects to represent Great Britain at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. She won a silver medal at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games for her high jump abilities. We discussed her career, how SportsAid has helped in her pursuit of the gold, and what it can do for other young athletes.
The Foxley Docket: To begin with, introduce yourself and give us a little bit about what you do.
Isobel Pooley: I’m an international high jumper, I’ve been jumping since I was 13. The international side took off at 18 while attending the University of Nottingham, where I studied Animal Science.
TFD: You’re a Track and Field athlete, specialising in High Jump. How did your passion for sports begin?
IP: When I was a child, I had so much energy and I absolutely loved running around. I used to build obstacles in my back garden to jump over. I also loved horse riding and dog training, so the idea of jumping over things, whether it was animals or myself, appealed to me massively. The thrill of athletics struck a chord with me from a very young age; I discovered high jump in a PE lesson at school at the age of 13. From that point onward, I knew it was the sport for me. Being tall, I was too uncoordinated and gangly to be good at anything else, which I found quite depressing, so I was grateful when it turned around and I was able to turn that personal attribute into an asset.
TFD: At what point did you realise that High Jump was something you could make a name for yourself in?
IP: It would’ve been in the year before I started University. I’d focused on being a vet and I had it in my mind that that would become my job and my life before I realised that there was a whole sporty world out there opening up all around me. Being involved with SportsAid and Lloyd’s Bank, there were so many different big companies which offered me the support I needed to take my ability to the next level. I was starting to realise that studying at university was something that I wanted to do; I didn’t need to get a job and start an academic career straight after uni – there was the option to become a professional athlete, if I could just find the financial support that I needed to get there.