Athletics News

Shaikira King hopes to become the queen of middle-distance running

Shaikira King hopes to become the queen of middle-distance running

We catch up with the young record-breaker to talk about early achievement, athletics families and Olympic ambition

Shaikira King knows what she wants – to be a double Olympic champion like Kelly Holmes. The 15-year-old has already taken impressive strides towards trying to realise that ambition. With two athletic parents and a sister also excelling on the track, it’s perhaps no surprise that Shaikira has already begun her collection of international vests.

She is looking to build on a very successful 2023, which saw her break European and British age 14 records for 800m and 1500m, as well as winning the Schools International Athletics Board (SIAB) International over the shorter distance.

When it came to cross country, Shaikira took the under-17 English National title and was the first in her age group across the line at the Liverpool Cross Challenge in November. Her finish in joint third place overall would have qualified her for the British U20 team at the European Cross Country Championships, but she was still too young to compete in Brussels.

I know both your parents are runners, but how did the love affair with running start for you?

When I was younger, my sister [Indienne] was doing cross-countries quite a lot. I used to go with Mum and run around, cheering her on. I wasn’t old enough to race but was inspired watching her and remember saying: “I really want to race when I’m old enough.”

In year three, school gave us this entry form asking if we wanted to participate and I filled it in straight away saying yes. I expected to come 28th or something but in my first race I literally sprinted from the gun to the front. In the first 100m, I was already 20m ahead and the gap kept increasing until I ended up winning. I was inspired and motivated after that and wanted to do all the school races.

Shaikra King

When did you know you wanted to specialise in middle-distance running?

I did my first track race aged about nine. It was 400m, which was quite a long way at that age, but it went well. I like feeling the speed, so I enjoyed the track more and the challenge of getting my times down. I love the atmosphere of the races with the crowd in the stands, too, so middle distance kind of fell into place and I made good times.

You clocked 2:03.79 for 800m at the English Schools. Did you think you had that in you?

My training had been going well and was really consistent. It felt like I peaked in that race – it was perfect. Because it was only the…

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