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Beagles’ golden girl Finette is ready for Commonwealth Games challenge

PUBLISHED: 09:30 19 January 2018

Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles celebrates her gold medal in the European under-23s

Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles celebrates her gold medal in the European under-23s

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Newham youngster is off to the Gold Coast for biggest meeting of her life

Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beaglesl in the European under-23s Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beaglesl in the European under-23s

If 2017 was a pivotal year for young sprinter Finette Agyapong, then 2018 could be the year where she comes of age on the track.

Still only 20, the Plaistow-born Newham & Essex Beagle won European under-23 200 metre gold last year and also competed at the senior European Cup in Lille as well as the Diamond League meeting in Monaco as she burst on to the global athletics scene.

“I think winning gold in Poland at the European under-23s was my big highlight of the year, but I managed to do so many other things,” said Agyapong.

“The championships in Bydgoszcz was my big goal of the year. I went there to win gold, but also just to relax and enjoy it and it all came together really well and I also got a personal best.”

Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles

That time of 22.86 put her fifth in the UK rankings for the year, but she also excelled at both 100m and 400m during 2017.

“I competed in the 100m at the British Championships just for a bit of sprint work,” she added.

“I wasn’t expecting to do that well, but I clocked a PB of 11.49 in the semi-final and was seventh in the final,” she said, with a chuckle.

It is that natural sprinting talent, nurtured by her coach Coral Nourrice, that has seen her climb the rankings and she even tried her hand at 400m in August and managed a time that not only put her eighth in the UK rankings, but also earned her a call-up to the England team for the Commonwealth Games.

Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles rounds the bend in Manchester Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles rounds the bend in Manchester

“It was a really good year for me,” she added. “Obviously winning gold at the European under-23s was the pinnacle, but I also really enjoyed being invited to run in the Diamond League meeting in Monaco.

“There I was, in the same race as all these household names who I had watched on the TV and it was such a thrill. I certainly didn’t feel out of place.”

The Beagle, who is combining her athletics career by studying law at Brunel University where she is in her second year, finished fourth in Monaco, behind British team-mate Dina Asher-Smith, confirming how far she has come.

So what about the Commonwealth Games, which take place at the Gold Coast in Australia in April?

Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles Finette Agyapong of Newham & Essex Beagles

“It is going to be great,” she said. “I have never been to Australia before and I am so looking forward to it.

“I will know some of the athletes going, like Asha Philip, Bianca Williams and Corinne Humphreys, but it will also be really good to be in the village and mix with some of the athletes from all the other sports.”

So what are her hopes Down Under?

“I am in the 4x400m relay squad, which was a little bit of a surprise,” she admitted. “I did a 400m towards the end of last season and got quite high in the rankings which got me the pick, but I am also competing in the 200m.”

That is Agyapong’s main event, the one where she had made her name, but she will be up against some formidable opponents when she gets there.

Some people have written off the Commonwealth Games as a lesser competition than others, but with the likes of Jamaica, Canada, Australia and Kenya eligible to send teams, that seems to be wide of the mark.

Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo from the Bahamas, Crystal Emmanuel from Canada and Simone Facey from Jamaica, as well as Asher-Smith and Williams, all ran faster than her last year, and are eligible to run in the Gold Coast, but Agyapong is confident of doing well.

“My aim is to make the final,” she said defiantly. “It will be a tough competition, but I am fit and training well and I think that is possible. It would be great.”

Agyapong also has her eye on the European Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin in August and if she can make that, then like her Beagles clubmate Philip, the athletics world could be at her feet.

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