Tayla Brade received a 2:2 in journalism from the University of the Arts London this summer. Now 22, she first joined Track Academy around the time of the London Olympics in 2012. She explained: “Lots of clubs in London were asked to help test out the track at the Olympic Stadium, and I took part in a 4 x 100m relay. It was amazing. We came third, and Coach Connie told me I couldn’t keep my bronze medal if I didn’t keep coming to Track Academy.”
She added: “I was always one of those people who was good at sport but didn’t want to train; the thought of working hard was not for me. But when I made friends at Track Academy, I saw the good things they were doing and it gave me motivation.”
In the last seven years, Tayla has gained a national bronze medal in the 60m and has been Middlesex champion in the 100m, amongst other accolades. Her personal best in the 100m is a fantastic 11.8 seconds.
Tayla says that Track Academy was also instrumental in keeping her focus at school. “Maths and science were my worst subjects,” said the former Queen’s Park Community School pupil. “Connie and Janice would ban me from competitions if I didn’t study and I hated them for it! But it worked.”
Tayla’s first university experience was in Leicester where she studied Psychology for a year. Realising it wasn’t the subject for her, she decided to take a year out before starting another course – but Connie knew this wouldn’t be the right option for her.
“She said I couldn’t come to training if I took a gap year!” Tayla said. “So I decided to change to journalism because I had done Media Studies at A Level and really enjoyed it. There were only 70 other students on the course so the lecturers knew our names. I loved it.”
During her degree, Tayla spent one day a week in the Track Academy office helping with administrative tasks. Now, she has taken a full-time role as Events Multi-Skills Co-ordinator, and coaches student athletes in her spare time. “It was a good fit for me when the role came up,” she said. “I feel like I am giving back to the charity and helping the young people is so rewarding.”
Connie said: “Tayla was a reluctant athlete, but with Track Academy’s help she became confident enough not only to compete at the National Championships but secure a medal. Along this journey, Track Academy also encouraged her to study hard at school.
“It is with enormous pleasure that we have watched Tayla graduate from university. Personally, I am very grateful and proud that she has decided to come back and work for us. Tayla reinforces the core values of our charity as she herself lived through it and benefited from it. She has come full circle and you can’t ask for better than that!”
Below: Tayla (right) is pictured with Lord Sebastian Coe and some of her fellow Track Academy alumna.