Less than a week after the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, one of our young athletes groups had a visit from England representative Sonia Samuels.

Sonia finished in 5th place in the women’s marathon in sweltering conditions on the Gold Coast and once back in the UK took a trip ‘home’ from her Loughbrough base to chat to some of our young athletes at the recent Spring Relays. She also made the generous gesture of donating her England kit, plus kit from her sponsor Brooks, to some of the club’s brightest young stars.


Some of our young athletes enjoy themselves in their new kit


The Commonwealth Gaes were not Sonia’s first major championships, she raced in the 10,000m at the Games in 2014 in Glasgow and has also competed in the World Championships at Moscow plus numerous European and World Cross Country Championships. She is also a former National Cross Country Champion. Her biggest achievement though surely must have been when she fulfilled a lifelong dream and competed at the Rio Olympics in 2016.


Sonia achieving her dream at the Rio Olympics


Although having lived in Loughbrough since she finished University more than 15 years ago, Sonia was born and bred in North Tyneside and always keeps an eye on the young talent in the region. She made the visit and met some of our young athletes after hearing how well the club was doing and wanted to offer advice and encouragement.

This is not the first time Sonia has visited the club and has joined in sessions on more than one occasion, the most recent being just after Christmas last year when she experienced the famous Sainsburys loops when starting her Commonwealth Games training.


Sonia (complete with Poly hat!) after some Sainsburys loops last Christmas


It has to be said, Sonia could have done a number of things with her England Commonwealth Games kit. The most obvious being to keep it as a memento of her amazing achievement. She could have given it to any other local club, she could have even sold it on Ebay! She didn’t though, she made the effort to put something back into the sport at grassroots level, kindly gave the kit to our club and she must be commended on this.


Sonia finishing 5th at the Commonwealth Games


From a personal point of view, I can honestly say that this was one of the most selfless things I’ve ever seen from an athlete, never mind an International one! I’ve known Sonia for more than 25 years and despite all the success she has gained she has always remained humble and grounded and this incredibly act of generosity proves this. She is a local girl done good and who knows, her gesture may just inspire some of our own young athletes to follow her path.

So on behalf of everyone (especially the girls who are currently in possession of brand new England kit!) I would like to send out a heartfelt thank you to Sonia and wish her all the best for the upcoming European Championships in Berlin in August.


Thanks ‘Wor Son’


Author: Lee Morgan