We speak to a British Olympian whose drive means she is always on the lookout for self-improvement
“The thing about me is that I’m very resilient,” says Nicole Yeargin. That’s just as well. The 25-year-old’s resilience and ambition have been driving forces in her career to date, fuelling track-inspired moves from high school in Maryland, to college in Ohio, then the University of Southern California (USC) and most recently to Texas, where she has linked up with coach Boogie Johnson and a group of athletes including Dalilah Muhammad, the former Olympic 400m hurdles champion and world record-holder.
Both attributes also helped her to pick herself up after a disappointing disqualification for a lane infringement in the Olympic 400m heats in Tokyo. “Once something happens, it’s happened. I can shed a tear, but after that, why would I keep myself down?” she says. “I had two goals [in Tokyo] – the 400m and the [4x400m] relays. The 400m was done, but we still had the relay. It really didn’t affect me that much. I made a simple mistake that I won’t make again.”
Yeargin began to realise her athletics potential at Ursuline College, Ohio. She played soccer, her preferred high school sport, but she had started to break school track records and was winning regional meets. She switched to Kent State where she knew the standard was higher, but experienced a harsh reality check when she got “dusted” in the 200m at the NCAA Regionals.
“I was doing well in the Midwest, but I think I realised at that point that I had a lot of work to do,” says the Pitreavie AAC athlete who was born in Maryland by competes for Great Britain and Scotland thanks to her Scottish mother. “Ever since that year I was ready to go, I was on it, and I remember thinking that the rest of the team just wasn’t. I was taking the sport seriously and it was time for me to find a group of ladies that felt the same way, so I transferred to (the 400m group) USC.”
Yeargin’s moves have been calculated and decisive, leaving little room for emotion or sentiment. Every school she went to, every year that passed, training got more intense. Her continual strive for improvement led her to the USC elite programme post-Tokyo alongside athletes such as Michael Norman, Rai Benjamin and Kendall Ellis, but it wasn’t the right fit.
She spoke to a former team-mate who had already moved out to Texas and figured that, if it worked for her, then it was worth a shot.
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