By Matt Wright
Taia Tunstall says a bumper summer of athletics has further fuelled her quest to make a long-awaited major championship debut.
It has been an encouraging year for the 20-year-old from Watford, who recently won the Under-23 discus competition at the English Championships at Bedford after a swift recovery from a bout of Covid-19.
Tunstall testing positive came not long after she threw a personal best of 52.78 metres at the StoneX Stadium, Barnet, a mid-season switch to a reverse technique already bearing rewards.
She also finished top of the podium at the BUCS University Championships at Chelmsford and is now setting her sights on competing for her country at senior level, having previously done so at last year’s European Under-20 Championships in Estonia and watching English success at this summer’s World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
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Tunstall said: “I really want to do it in the next couple of years, especially the Commonwealths, with the next one being in Australia.
“I’m getting a lot closer to the [required] standard as well and even though it is quite competitive among female discus throwers, we’re all around that mark now.
“It’s just one of those things that me and my coach are going to use as motivation as much as we can in getting to that standard.
“Getting to the Olympics is definitely one of the goals – if it doesn’t happen in the next few years, it doesn’t happen, but at the same time I would like it to eventually happen.”
Tunstall balances her throwing with studying for a degree in Sport Science, Coaching and Physical Education at Loughborough University, with the third year of that starting in September.
She also receives sponsorship from SportsAid and Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – which has proved vital in her development as the funding has allowed her access to top-of-the-range equipment and helped with expenses.
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“I go through shoes like there’s no tomorrow,” Tunstall said.
“I go through about a pair a year at the minute, and they are quite expensive, and we recently had to buy some new ones.
“Luckily the money from SportsAid and Entain has really helped with that but also, with gas prices going up, my dad is the one who does all the driving, so me and him have been really appreciative of the funding I’ve been getting.
“It’s helping him just as much as me and he is obviously helping me with my competition, especially when my coach isn’t there.
“It even helps with living expenses because I’ve recently moved into a new house, which has allowed me to stay in Loughborough to train full-time.
“It’s helped a lot because it was never one of those things I thought I’d be on the radar for, but I’m appreciative of the sponsorship I’m getting.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more