LOUGHBOROUGH student Matt Stonier admits it still feels surreal to be selected for the Commonwealth Games this summer but is certain of his plan ahead of his Team England debut writes Alec McQuarrie.
The 20-year-old has just completed his second year of university and after a shock win at the Nike Emsley Carr Mile, another surprise was just around the corner.
The middle-distance runner from Sturry, Kent – who will compete in the 800m and 1500m events in Birmingham – got a call from one of his Loughborough coaches who told him he would be representing his country at the Games in Birmingham.
Talking at the Team England Kitting Out day, Stonier acknowledged the news is only starting to sink in.
There’s only 6️⃣ days to go until the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games! #B2022#TNLAthletes from the home nations met up to thank #NationalLottery players for their support and to celebrate the countdown to the Games. 🤞#MakeAmazingHappen [1/2] pic.twitter.com/Bfz6InsQff
— National Lottery Good Causes (@LottoGoodCauses) July 22, 2022
Stonier said: “This is the first realisation, trying on all the clothes. It’s just so surreal.
“It was quite hard keeping it quiet in front of everyone because they were all hoping to find out.
“Once the news was official it was just amazing, having loads of people congratulate you, people who have followed you on that journey.
“And people who don’t really follow the sport that much, they all know what the Commonwealth Games are. It’s a nice realisation of ‘wow, he’s actually quite good now’.”
This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes in total, and having secured his place on the squad, Stonier is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.
And with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Stonier hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.
The Invicta East Kent AC runner has been making huge strides in the last couple of years, breaking the four-minute mile barrier at the Nike Emsley Carr Mile.
It was a tense wait to find out he’d finished first ahead of Piers Copeland by two hundredths of a second.
Stonier recalled: “Maybe deep down I thought I had finished ahead, but I didn’t want to show it or believe it until I really knew.
“It was too big of an event, too prestigious a title to celebrate and not end up winning.”
A month later he competed at the Muller UK Athletics Championships, coming home in sixth in the face of stiff competition.
Stonier said: “I think at the start of the season if you’d said you’re going to trials and the guys you’re going to miss out to are all World finalists or Olympic finalists, I’d have been thrilled to almost be the best of the rest.
“But as the season progressed and with the results I had, I think I was a little bit disappointed with the way I raced it.
“I let those go ahead and kind of accepted defeat to them with a lap to go which going into it wasn’t how I wanted it to happen. But the actual result wasn’t too bad.
“I know what I’ve got to do at the Commonwealth Games. I’ve got to give myself a chance in that last lap to compete at the top.
“Yes, I want to be there to soak in the atmosphere and take in the whole event, but I am there to compete.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.