You’d better Belize it! Ipswich Harriers athlete Katy Sealy is going to the Olympics

Katy Sealy in hurdles action

Katy Sealy in hurdles action - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Harriers athlete Katy Sealy will be competing in the Rio Olympics this summer after being handed a wildcard place for Belize.

Katy Sealy

Katy Sealy - Credit: Archant

The 25-year-old, who lives in Bawdsey and went to Farlingaye High School, is eligible to represent the small Central American nation because her grandparents lived there in the 1960s and her father was born there.

She has been travelling the world representing them since 2010 and broken several national records in various disciplines – including high jump, javelin, 800m indoor and the heptathlon.

It’s the heptathlon that Sealy specialises in, but Belize have selected her to compete in the 100m hurdles because no wild cards are permitted in the hepathtlon.

Australia’s Sally Pearson won the 100m women’s hurdles gold at London 2012 in a time of 12.35, while the qualifying standard is 13.0.

Katy Sealy with the Belize athletics team at the Central American Championships in El Salavor

Katy Sealy with the Belize athletics team at the Central American Championships in El Salavor - Credit: Archant

Sealy’s personal best in the event is a wind-assisted 15.2 at Northgate Sports Centre, in Ipswich, in the East Anglian League last summer. That time would put her 78th in the English women’s rankings for this year.

Deon Sutherland, president of the Belize Athletic Association, explained: “Because we don’t have any athletes that qualify for the Olympics, you have what they call wild cards – a male and a female. Based on performances over the years, we have selected Katy.”

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Sealy won heptathlon gold at the Central American Championships for the third successive year at the weekend when competing in El Salvador.

Currently in Belize, where she has appeared on several national television shows, Sealy spoke to the EADT and Ipswich Star via e-mail last night:

You said 18 months ago that being selected for the Olympics would ‘be a bonus’. Did you ever expect to be going to Rio?

Growing up it was always a dream of mine to go to the Olympics. It’s every athletes dream! I knew 18 months ago that I had a lot of work to do to reach the qualifying standard and knew it was going to be a big challenge for me to qualify automatically. However, countries which have no qualifying athletes are permitted to submit two wild cards – Ooe male and one female. I was aware of this rule and was working hard in the hope that Belize may consider selecting me if no one qualified. All I could do was work hard and improve, which I did, and I am absolutely honoured to be selected.

You’ve been selected for the 100m hurdles. Did you think that would be the event that got you to an Olympics?

The rule for competing in the heptathlon is that you have to reach the standard and no wild cards are allowed. Field events are my strongest events (I have made particular gains in long jump this year) but as a wildcard I must compete in a track event, therefore I have been selected for the 100m hurdles, which is the first event of a heptathlon. I never ever imagined I would go to the Olympics for the hurdles! I will be working so hard over the next four weeks training for the hurdles with the aim of running a personal best out in Rio and maybe getting close to the Belize National Record.

What have your last few months been like? When did you sense you were making major progress and which results were key?

I started my block of winter training in the middle of September and carried it all the way through to the end of May. One of my priorities for this year was the Central American Championships in El Salvador last weekend in which I won the gold medal in the heptathlon and improved my own national record, also breaking the Central American Championship record. This is my greatest achievement to date and shows I am in the best shape I have ever been.

I am very fortunate that I have had a fantastic winter of training and must thank my physio, Kimberley, for keeping me in shape for every session. I competed indoors in December and won the South of England Pentathlon Championships. That was a big success for me and clearly showed the progress I had made.

The outdoor season started in April and I competed in some individual events for Ipswich Harriers, getting some competition practice with the aim of peaking in El Salvador at the Central American Champs.

I will now focus my training towards hurdles and sprints in order to be at my best for this event in Rio. However, I will still be concentrating on the heptathlon with the aim of further improving my national record at the Central American Games next year.

Your dad was born in Belize. He must be particularly proud.

I haven’t seen him yet as I am in Belize and he had to stay at home! We have been able to FaceTime and of course he is very proud. He dedicates a lot of his time to coming to training with me so I am looking forward to rewarding him with a trip to Rio, along with my mum, brother David and coach, Denis Costello. I will dedicate my performance at Rio to my grandad, who passed away last year. I know he would have been so proud to see me wearing the Belize vest at an Olympic Games.

What will your preparations be now? When are you back from Belize?

I travelled to Belize from El Salvador after the competition to have my rest and recovery in the sun (however it has been raining!). I have also done a number of television interviews for Belize news channels. I am back from Belize on Sunday and will get straight back in to see my physio for a once over and then crack on with training before I head to Rio at the end of July.

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