Stars in her eyes ... Tokyo’s hurdling record-breakers are inspiring Melissa Coxon’s push for the top

KARSTEN WARHOLM and Sydney McLaughlin shattering world records at Tokyo 2020 is catalysing Rotherham star Melissa Coxon's rise to the hurdling summit.

Coxon, 19, first started athletics as a pentathlete for Rotherham Harriers before going on to specialise in the 400m hurdles — Warholm and McLaughlin's jet-heeled discipline — four years ago.

American ace McLaughlin, 22, soared to Olympic gold in world record time this summer while Norwegian Warholm, 25, sliced a staggering 0.76s off his own record to climb to the top of the podium.

Coxon revelled in watching the thrills of the Games unfold and said: “The Olympics was so amazing.

“It was just how even the top three broke the Olympic record, and the top two the world record, in both the men's and women's finals. To have that depth in my event in both genders is unreal.  

“Sydney McLaughlin is so young as well, and she's gone on to a high-level elite stage and she's still managed to produce amazing performances — I find her so inspiring.

“I loved watching the Olympics, and because of the year we've had as well with Covid, to still produce world records is unbelievable when you think about it.  

“Of course, I'd love to compete at an Olympics one day — fingers crossed it can happen.”

Having finished studying at Wales High School in Kiveton last summer, Coxon has moved on to pastures new at sporting-renowned university Loughborough, where she studies Biological Sciences and is able to train as an elite athlete and rub shoulders with some of the best British talent on offer.

And she added: “Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Andrew Pozzi were at the track a couple of days ago doing some testing. That was amazing to see — I was definitely a bit starstruck.

“I've watched KJT's career unfold — to see her confidence go up over the years is something I find really inspiring and it makes me have faith in just having time to progress.  

“At Loughborough I train six days a week, which is starting to mirror more of an elite training schedule.  

“Jessica Ennis-Hill has always been an inspiration to me, and now I can begin to relate to that training load, and it feels more obtainable to be like her.

“Her work ethic is something that I've always looked up to.”

Coxon has already enjoyed success on the track and showed off her hurdling prowess in her first senior national race at the British Championships in 2021, finishing sixth despite being the youngest competitor.

And she's now hoping to use 2022 as a springboard into the European U23 Championships in Finland next year.

She said: “The British Champs was really surreal. To compete with the best of the best in the country was really good and has been key to building my experience against really good athletes.

“My main aim is to go to the Europeans next year, but this year as a first year under-23, I want to medal at the U23 England National Championships.

“I also have BUCS on the cards now where I'd be competing for Loughborough for the first time, so we'll see what happens there. I'm not really expecting much because I'm a 'fresher', but it will be great to go and build my confidence up a bit.  

“I want to get PBs this year, but it's all working towards 2023.”

Written by Bella Butler, Sportsbeat

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