I greet Twinelle Hopeson outside the Sutton arena training ground. Twenty-year-old Twinelle was a Lloyds TSB local hero, and her dedication and involvement to her sport and in the community saw her selected to be a torchbearer in Croydon last week.
She’s running late for our interview but she has a good excuse. Today Twinelle was training with an athlete competing at the London Olympics from Dominica . They’re now friends on Facebook, and Twinelle is obviously excited about her involvement in training with a budding star at this years Games. She says she makes friends from all over the world because of athletics. “Today I was learning from Luan Gabriel from Dominica during training and it’s so exciting to be involved.”
It’s been a busy time for the 20-year-old athlete. Not only has she been training with a contender for the biggest sporting event London has ever hosted, but she got to run through her hometown of Croydon carrying the Olympic Torch.
Twinelle has a list of achievements longer than the track she trains on, which is a result of the serious training she puts in. She competed in the World Junior Championships in Canada two years ago as part of the women’s 4 x 100m relay and in Serbia during the European Youth Olympics. During this time, she achieved a handful of personal bests and represented Britain in the 100m final.
She says of the honour, “It was amazing, it was right next to my primary school, so I had loads of support from my friends from secondary school, my family and loads of my friends from West Croydon Methodist church.”
Twinelle clearly has a great support network behind her. Backed by her family, her father is her trainer, her mum a dietician and her older sister was an athlete herself before injury struck. Twinelle says “I’ve kind of been born into it. Plus it helps when things go wrong because you’ve got a support team behind you.”
Then she has the community of her church which held a special torch relay party in her honour. “We had a funfair and bouncy castle, with face painting, music and food. My friends and family helped celebrate and it was really nice.” Community is clearly important to her.
Twinelle looks to home grown heroes like Daley Thompson for inspiration, “His achievements at past Olympics and his world records are really inspiring. I met him when I was younger, he’s such an amazing athlete, and a really good figure giving loads of advice and motivation.”
This is something she replicates in her community work with charity Summers Trust. She participates in a yearly trip with disadvantaged children. “A lot can’t afford holidays so as part of the trust we take them away on activity holidays. Coming from a sporting background I get to give my experience and knowledge to the kids so that’s really rewarding. I love doing it”.
She said she was very proud to carry the torch. “I’m really glad to have been involved with it, especially since I’m not competing, I feel like I have played my part in the 2012 Olympics which is a really good feeling.”