“You have to be the biggest driver of your own success. It’s you on the start line, behind the blocks and waiting for the gun,” says track and field athlete and New Balance ambassador Amy Hunt. “In those tough winter sessions it’s just you in that moment. You have to be your own biggest motivation.”
Nineteen-year-old Amy is one of the UK’s fastest rising athletics stars and a member of New Balance’s We Got Now – a new crop of athletes who want to push boundaries and drive change outside of their sport. “It’s about the power we each have in this present moment. It’s rooting us in this exact moment and encouraging us to create and inspire radical change,” she says of New Balance’s motto.
Amy is a 200m specialist and won gold in the 200m at the 2019 European Junior Championships. She currently holds the World U18 record for the same distance. Her sights are set on the 2024 Paris Olympics but in the meantime she’s a second-year English Literature student at the University of Cambridge.
Studying at one of the world’s best universities wasn’t always in Amy’s plans – her English teachers encouraged her to apply and she didn’t even expect to get an interview – but when the opportunity arose, she grabbed it. “I thought, Life is too short to take the easy path, and I knew I wanted to push myself in all aspects of life.”
''You have to be your biggest motivation''
Amy played every sport available to her at school in Newark, Nottinghamshire, where she grew up, before getting involved in triathlon and then discovering athletics at the age of 11. Even then, she was competitive. “I wanted to push myself further and faster than anyone else and I enjoyed it so much that I never decided to have a career as an athlete. It came as a sort of necessary caveat, the further I pushed myself.”
This self-discipline and dedication has carried through to adulthood. “Routine and planning are key for me to create a stable base to the craziness of some days,” she says. Every morning starts at 7.30am with the same breakfast: porridge and a banana with honey, and a black coffee. Amy plans her meals in advance to ensure they meet her nutritional needs around training, which ends at 8/8.30pm. “Then it’s time to relax and chill out, so I’d watch something easy-going like Sex Education. I usually meditate and reflect at the end of the day and then I aim to be asleep by 11.”
Studying at Cambridge – especially during the pandemic – while competing in high-level sport must be challenging at the best of times. “I’m a fan of baths if things get really stressful,” Amy divulges. “Hot baths can cure almost everything.” Amy is also characteristically disciplined with her skincare routine, which she considers a form of stress release and self-care as she winds down for bed.
“Pressure can be an isolating experience so just talking to friends and family helps too,” she says. But the most important stress reliever? Fun and having a laugh with friends and her training partners. “There will be moments of pressure but if you truly enjoy what you do then you can see the big picture and realise it’s just a pinch point, not a downward spiral.”
"Pressure can be an isolating experience so just talking to friends and family helps too"
As one of Britain's most promising young athletes, who’s still in her teens, Amy never fails to feel excited about her sport. “I love how versatile and diverse athletics is. It’s a sport comprising many smaller sports where we see a range of body types, backgrounds and nationalities, among other things. Compared to other sports, it’s great for gender equality.”
There is, however, “work to be done around raising the global profile of athletics,” admits Amy, who grew up watching Usain Bolt on TV and in the flesh at the 2017 World Championships in London. “It’s a sport all of us do at school, it’s a sport many of us do every day or every weekend at the local parkrun and yet a microscopic handful of athletes are household names.”
She particularly admires female athletes who have used their platforms to champion issues outside their sport by speaking about subjects such as athlete mental health, for example.
Amy hopes to use her platform to amplify intersectional feminist causes. “Maxine of @lookingformothermax speaks about feminism starting with the most vulnerable and not the most privileged. White feminism can’t just selfishly control the microphone, we have to amplify the voices of others,” she says – girls who can’t get an education, child brides and those living in poverty around the world. “The system runs deeper than aesthetic feminism.”
We Got Now is all about the new generation being passionate, impatient and going beyond their sport. “It’s poignant when thinking about the climate crisis, which causes a lot of existential anxiety for me and my generation,” says Amy. It’s also about the power we have as individuals to create and inspire radical change.
As for her athletics career, Amy is excited about the plethora of major championships in the coming years, many of which were cancelled because of COVID. “But Paris has been the main focus of our plans for the last three years so that’s definitely the biggest target we have.”