Amy Hunt: “I can outdo my ranking” – AW

    British indoor champion has emerged from setbacks and challenges to claim her spot on the European stage in Rome this weekend

    Following a return from a long-term injury, Amy Hunt couldn’t have imagined she would be training alongside Olympic finalists in Italy, preparing for her European Championships debut.

    Yet here she is. The 22-year-old is set to showcase her speed in the 100m and 4x100m this weekend in Rome, right on her doorstep.

    Hunt has steadily progressed through this year, seizing every opportunity to compete. She kicked off the season by clinching the British indoor 60m title in 7.26.

    Her momentum carried her to the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, and she played a key role in Great Britain’s 4x100m team at the World Relays, where the team not only qualified for the Olympics but also earned a bronze medal.

    GB 4x100m qualifiers (Francesca Grana / World Athletics)

    Last week, she continued to show off her form at the Stockholm Diamond League, finishing third in the women’s 200m. Despite the challenge of running in lane one, she clocked 22.92 (-2.0), as she ‘hunted them down.’

    “You don’t get many races where you think: ‘I’ve got to hunt them down,’ but coming into the home straight and thinking that you are going to pick them off one by one was sort of fun,” says Hunt. “It made it like a game to chase people down.

    “It’s good to go into a race with the mindset that no one expects anything from you, there is no pressure and you just have to go for it.

    “I stood and started with the biggest smile on my face, believing I was going to win. That is the attitude that I am going to take and apply to every single race this season.”

    Originally selected to compete in the 4x100m, her plans took a turn earlier in the week. With a last-minute withdrawal by Imani-Lara Lansiquot and Daryll Neita choosing to concentrate solely on the 200m, Hunt is now gearing up for the 100m in Rome.

    She will compete in the heats on June 8, with the semi-finals and final on June 9.

    Although this will be her senior European Championships debut, she is no stranger to competing against the best in Europe as she achieved two gold medals at the European Under-20 Championships 2019 in the 200m and 4x100m.

    “The change hasn’t changed our preparations because we were aiming for this championships on an individual basis,” says Hunt.

    After soaring through her junior career and clinching numerous titles, Hunt faced a major setback due to illness and injury.

    A ruptured quadricep sustained during the 2022 indoor season forced her out of action for the rest of the season, requiring surgery and a rehabilitation process. During this time she was also juggling an English Literature degree at the University of Cambridge, which proved more difficult than expected.

    She says: “It would be great to see faculties and colleges a bit more flexible and understanding of the concepts of professional athletes because we are very competitive people and that doesn’t stop when we step off the track necessarily.”

    Amy Hunt (Getty)

    Now, one degree later and injury-free Hunt has overcome these challenges and sees this as all the more reason to compete in Rome.

    “I think as someone who has seen maybe one of the worst outcomes that can happen in a race, I recognise that I can’t take anything for granted. As a young athlete this year it is really great to get that championship experience and improve on head to head competitive situations.

    “Everything is a learning opportunity and everything is an opportunity to get better and take something forward. When you really break it down, having had covid and surgery, we decided that it is definitely the best shot to go for it.

    “I can really step up to the plate, and I can really outdo my ranking. I feel like I am a very different person now to the person I was a year ago.”

    Unlike most GB athletes this week, Hunt will not be making the trip oversees as she is already based in Padua – a 40-minute car journey from the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

    For the last year she has been training under the guidance of Marco Airale, one of the youngest but fastest-rising sprint coaches in the world.

    Airale is known for the growth of many British athletes such as Neita and Jeremiah Azu, with the former having had pulled out from Rome due to injury. Neita will join Hunt in the 4x100m team.

    Amy Hunt and Daryll Neita (Getty)

    “Moving to Italy at 21 years old – not many people get to do that, it is the ultimate dream. I could never have dreamt I would be where I am right now.

    “The training is almost not comparable, it is such a different make-up, structure and culture. Training with such amazing people like I do, you have to come in every single day and be on it.

    “I know I’ve got an Olympic finalist next to me training and if I turn up and I am a bit tired then I am going to get absolutely smoked.

    “I’m still very much getting used to handling my new body, my new training and my new power and techniques that I’ve been able to access under the new set-up. This is kind of a home champs for me in a way so it’s lovely to be able to compete in Italy.”

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