Mills excited for Commonwealth Games after jump to heptathlon

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Holly Mills at World Athletics Indoor Championships - REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel
Holly Mills at World Athletics Indoor Championships - REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

Holly Mills is an athlete who clearly enjoys a challenge, as it was her decision to add six events to her schedule and begin competing in heptathlons four years ago.

The 22-year-old from Andover will now compete at this summer’s Commonwealth Games despite initially appearing to be a long jump star in her youth.

Mills clinched gold at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games at Nassau, Bahamas but later that year decided to switch and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

“I’d had a lot of success early on with long jump – I was jumping crazy distances at such a young age and then I plateaued for a little bit,” said Mills, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“I kept plugging away for a while, but then it got to a point where there just wasn’t that passion there anymore because it had been so long since I’d got a PB, it had been a couple of years.

“At that point I was ready for a new challenge, so I chose to add six events – not sure what went through my mind when I thought that – because I’m the type of person who likes to do a lot of work.

“I enjoy a really big challenge, so I just thought ‘you know what? Let’s start on this journey,’ and it’s been a hell of a journey so far.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured her place on the squad, Mills is looking for medal success.

It is a journey that has already brought near-success at global level, as Mills finished fourth in the pentathlon at this year’s World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade, just seven points behind bronze medallist Kendall Williams of the United States.

She has since finished sixth at the Gotzis Hypo Meeting – a prestigious event for heptathletes – where she got to meet one of her predecessors, Denise Lewis, who famously won gold for Great Britain in the 2000 Olympics at Sydney.

“I was going to Belgrade to get a medal, so for me to come away with fourth was obviously gutting,” Mills said.

“I was completely overwhelmed by coming fourth by such a minute margin of seven points, but it was kind of the first chance to prove to myself, and to everyone, that I can compete on the global stage and be one of the best in the world.

“There was only a couple of people missing from that competition that are up there fighting for the medals at major championships, so for me to be in that calibre of athletes showed me that I’m not messing around this year.

“At Gotzis, I did not perform at my best, but it did show me that even when I’m not performing at my best in all of my individual events, I was still able to put together an overall good score.”

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