Olivia McDonald, a Year 10 student, is Seaford’s most successful long distance runner. Last year, in her first year at Seaford College, she won the Sussex Schools Junior Cross Country title and also competed in the Butser Hill Cross Country Challenge, running 3km, and came third overall, the first female to cross the finish line. The first few weeks this year have been busy for Olivia.She came third in the Surrey County Cross Country Championships, second in the Sussex Schools Cross Country competition, third in the British Athletics Cross Challenge race in Cardiff and third in the South and East of England Cross Country Championship. Olivia spoke to us about running, and her big aspirations for the future.
Tell us about yourself…
I competed at Sussex Schools and came 2nd, out of 100. That’s qualified me to run for Sussex in the English Schools competition in March. If I come in the top 8 there, I’ll get to run for England the following week. I get a bit nervous before running, but also really excited to get started before a race. On top of doing cross country and track, I’m thinking about the Steeplechase. I haven’t run it before but a friend has, and really enjoyed it. My favourite subjects at Seaford are P.E & Spanish. I also play a key role in many Seaford teams – hockey, netball, rounders and athletics. I also like horse riding. I have a competitive nature but I’m also happy and friendly.
When did you first get into running?
When I was in Year 3, I started doing cross country, and loved it. I usually run 3km at school and with my running club I usually run 4km. I run both track and cross country, but I prefer running cross country. I like having some hills when running.
What is it that inspires you?
My dad, who used to be an athlete at a high level in Australia. Peter Bourke, a family friend who was Commonwealth Games 800m Champion, also inspires me. The Australian, Genevieve LaCaze, is also my inspiration; she competes in the Steeplechase which is something I’d like to do. Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Sir Mo Farah are two of my running heroes.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
My long term aim is to become an Olympian. I’d love to run the 5km, and follow in Mo Farah’s footsteps. I’d also like to follow in the footsteps of Genevieve LaCaze in the Steeplechase.
How do you like to relax in your spare time?
I see friends and I like riding. I also look after my horse. I do watch TV but I’m generally out and about being active.
What would be your top tip for other pupils hoping to follow in your path?
If you really want to do more find a club and tell the coach what you want to achieve. If you expect to win but you don’t, brush yourself off and keep going. Don’t be hard on yourself. You learn from every race, whether you win or lose.