I looked for sport opportunities but I found sprinters were a rare breed and I didn’t feel like putting myself forward to be selected for the team sports as I was concerned I wouldn’t fit in.
I wonder how this experience might have been for my brothers - would they have felt so alienated? Or would the men's team sports have naturally swept them up as potential talent? I’ll never know.
But in my case, I was limited to gym-based activities and my motivation and passion started ebbing away.
During this challenging time I missed the sisterhood and the support network it provided – something that I now value deeply.
Thankfully, after university and several years away from sport, I decided to dip back into athletics and the feelings I had long missed just came flooding back.
Once again, I thrived on the sense of belonging, the socialising, the motivation, and the familiarity of those around me, plus the cold and rainy winter training sessions, which I can’t say I missed but were definitely character-building and a source of camaraderie.
Funnily enough, I remember telling my first athletics coach that I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to train for but then it went from a hobby to a habit of a lifetime.
Helping me to keep the joy
All my coaches have been supportive and empathetic as I navigated life as a teenager through to adulthood with various challenges, experiences and responsibilities along the way.
Struggling to balance their lives with being active is often a challenge for girls and why it is so important to ensure they have the right guidance and support to embrace activity and experience the joy that I have.
Being an athlete is a lifestyle which requires time, energy and commitment, but it has taught me discipline and focus, and how to overcome failure and build resilience.
Through all of this I’ve learned to enjoy the journey and it’s formed a big part of my identity.
I have had the opportunity to travel and work with fantastic coaches, therapists and athletes representing my club and county, running at national competitions and in recent years, as a GB Masters athlete.
The opportunities are vast and that’s why no girl should ever be made to feel excluded.
I’m fortunate that my training environment has always been diverse and open to all, embracing people from all walks of life and abilities. My safe space.
But I know it isn’t that way for everyone.
Far too many women still face discrimination and negativity in sporting settings and this must change.
Sport has allowed me to celebrate some of the greatest achievements of my life and seeing so many inspiring and influential black women in sport and their contributions is empowering and shows what we are capable of.
And while Black history may seem like a thing of the past to some, it lives through us every day as the past connects the present and future.
It is important to recognise that all women need a voice and a chance to be represented by someone who looks like them - and Black History Month helps by providing a platform and celebrate these women.
I am truly fortunate to be surrounded by many beautiful and brilliant black women and I salute my sisters by celebrating our community.