As part of our new series, we have interviewed members of the European Athletics Young Leaders Youth Team. They were all nominated by their federations to take part in the Young Leaders Forum in Amsterdam last summer and are all recognised as potential leaders of our sport in the years to come.
The European Athletics Young Leaders Community is a platform for active young and ambitious people who are interested in developing work and life skills, community service and making new friends.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Camilla Jane Lovell, I am 23 years old, born in England but raised in Spain. I graduated in 2016 in graphic design and, as a designer, I want to travel further than the idea of creating something aesthetically correct. I want to do better with design.
Outside of my day job as a designer, I am also an athlete. I specialise in the 400m hurdles and heptathlon. They say ninety percent of performance is mental; however I spend the majority of my time and effort on physical and technical training.
Even though training gets tough, sometimes my day can get out of hand too, and the pace of my life can seem frenetic. Athletics allows me to separate from all of this, it allows my mind to let go, by channelling another motivation, the motivation to become a better me, fighting for a goal.
How did you become involved with the European Athletics Young Leaders Community?
I honestly have to admit the first time I heard of it was when my federation selected me and I had the honour to represent Spain as a participant in the fifth edition of the European Athletics Young Leaders Forum which took place in the beautiful city of Amsterdam.
What is your favourite thing about athletics?
As an athlete, it is hard to pinpoint my favourite thing about it because 99 per cent of athletics is considered an individual sport - with the exception of the relays - where there is no one else to blame for a bad performance than yourself.
All those long evenings on the track, tough sessions in the gym and all the hard work you put in are directly reflected in your results. The toughest opponent you will find on the track is yourself; mindfulness plays an essential role in sport - everything you think, feel and believe plays into how you compete.
No matter how many tricks our mind plays on us, an athlete has to have the willpower to push forward no matter how bad your mind is telling you to stop, when your legs become jelly or the height of the bar feels too high, you have to put it all aside and feel confident in yourself and ignore all those levels of self-doubt.
Who is your athletics hero and why?
I believe I have a weakness for athletes with a strong will to overcome the harshest circumstances. An athlete that ticks all the boxes as a hero for me is decathlete Thomas Van der Plaetsen who was diagnosed with testicular cancer following the Zurich 2014 European Athletics Championships.
Not only did he defeat his disease, he came back strong to win gold at the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam in one of the toughest events in the sport, that was two gruelling days of competition that represents the true story of the sport: never giving up.
Which areas of the sport are you particularly interested in?
As a graphic designer and a lover of the sport I would love to learn the direct relation between these two aspects. Social media is a thriving aspect of our lives and I believe it can be used as a great method to spread the importance of the sport and the athletes themselves, as well as many other aspects such as human empowerment in the sport.
If you could change one aspect of the sport, what would you change and why?
Athletics never has a dull moment with so many events taking place on the track and the field. But, outside of Usain Bolt and the 100m, most people across the globe would be hard pressed to know confidently another event that takes place. The average sports fans may have heard of these events by name but they probably aren’t quite sure of how exactly each is performed.
I would love to change this, by spreading the word of how many fantastic events and athletes there are in the sport, as well as how each and every one of them holds a different skill set specific for that event.
Where do you see yourself within the sport in ten years’ time?
Coming from a girl that can barely remember what she had for dinner the night before this is definitely a tough question!
I know for sure I will never be too far away from the sport. I am currently living my life one day at a time but as athletics has given so much to me, it would be a powerful and overwhelming feeling to be able to share the values of the sport with the younger generation.
Through sport you get to witness incredible things from the people closest to you. I’m always awed by people’s performances and it’s really impressive to see how hard everyone works daily in such a time-consuming sport they love.
I am so grateful I can call myself a Young Leader and can’t wait to keep spreading the love for sport to all generations, and share more incredible adventures and stories across my blog.
What has been your highlight of Young Leaders so far?
The Young Leaders Forum will definitely be a week hard to forget.
The Forum had 75 participants from 50 different countries, and I will never forget any of them. I have never met so many different nationalities at the same time in my entire life; we may not have known each other the day we landed being complete strangers to one and other, but by the end of that week when it came time to leave,
I can honestly say I left with 75 new amazing people I can call friends, and from 50 different countries that I am dying to explore thanks to them.