Adelle Tracey Deals with Dyslexia Through Sport

by | Jul 5, 2020

British middle-distance runner, Adelle Tracey’s inspirational life story of dealing with dyslexia through sport resulted in her appointment as the first-ever Challenge Events Ambassador for Dementia UK.

The 800m runner has been vocal about her challenges suffering with the learning disorder. She did however, find comfort in sport and creative arts. The ever incredible power of sport once again shone through as she admits that it gave her the confidence to face the challenges in all aspects of her life.

Tracey spent her early years in Jamaica before moving to the United Kingdom where she currently pledges her allegiance.

She says that the 2000 Sydney Olympics sparked her interest in becoming a professional athlete and follow in the footsteps of her role models; Cathy Freeman, Denise Lewis, Paula Radcliffe, to name a few.

She regards her 800m personal best of 1:59.86 at the 2018 European Championships semi-finals and fourth-place finish in the final as her greatest highlight to date.

A woman of many talents, outside of athletics and championing women in sport empowerment, Tracey is also passionate about the work she does off the track as a makeup artist.

The gsport Team had the honour of unravelling Tracey’s life story:

Adelle, please introduce yourself to the gsport community, tell us a little about yourself and where you are connecting to us from?

I am a GB (Great Britain) middle-distance runner, primarily 800m and professional hair and makeup artist. London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony cauldron lighter, 2016 British Indoor Champion, 2017 World Championship semi-finalist, World University finalist (5th) and 2018 European Championship finalist (4th) with a PB of 1.59.86 over 800m. I am currently based in South West London.

How are you enduring the impact of Covid-19 and what adjustments have you had to make to your sporting program?

I feel really fortunate that in the UK we were still able to exercise outdoors once a day in the height of lockdown, therefore I was still able to run. Having said that, I usually run twice a day most days and without access to gyms my coach and I had to be a little creative with my training programme. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics being postponed, it meant we could take our foot off the gas a little bit, which was necessary given that I wasn’t able to get regular treatment from my physio for injury prevention. Since restrictions have eased, I have been able to train a bit more and get back on a track, but we are still having to adapt with gyms still not open and physio’s unable to treat.

What does your new sporting normal look like and how do you expect the rest of the year to play out?

I am super lucky that my boyfriend is my training partner and my coach can now watch my sessions from a distance, therefore we are not too far from normal. I have been doing strength and conditioning sessions and communicating with my physio via Zoom calls. However, although there are races scheduled later this year, they are likely to be very different with the crowd and I am missing the social aspect of training with my group.

Where does your passion for sport come from?

When I moved from Jamaica to the UK (aged 7) I struggled a lot at school because I am dyslexic. I naturally gravitated to towards the things I was good at, like running and being creative.” – British middle-distance runner, Adelle Tracey.

I’ve loved track and field for as long as I can remember. When I moved from Jamaica to the UK (aged 7) I struggled a lot at school because I am dyslexic. I naturally gravitated to towards the things I was good at, like running and being creative. I can still remember watching the 2000 Sydney Olympics knowing I wanted athletics to be my job one day. Sport has given me so much confidence in all walks of life.

Who were your sporting role models growing up?

I remember watching my first Olympic Games seeing Cathy Freeman compete in her green speed suit and Denise Lewis make the Heptathlon look easy and thinking they were such incredible athletes. Paula Radcliffe made me want to be an endurance runner, I admired her grit. Kelly Holmes always inspired me with her determination, she’s someone who I still really look up to and have been lucky enough to know her as a mentor. These days, I would say I am inspired by my training partners and other woman working towards the same goals.

How did you decide on middle distance running?

I did everything when I first joined my local athletics club and found I had good natural speed but could keep going. I used to run 400m and then do cross-country in the winter, so my coach thought I’d make a pretty good 800m runner. Luckily this was around the time Dame Kelly Holmes won her double golds, so I had already decided the middle distances looked like an exciting event to compete in!

What has been your greatest sporting achievement?

Probably coming fourth at the European Championships in Berlin 2018. Although I was just outside the medals which was bittersweet at the time, I came into the championship ranked 17th and ran a big PB in the semi-finals to go sub 2 minutes (a big barrier for a lot of 800m women) for the first time and finished as the first Brit.

How would you describe the state of women’s sport globally and what strides are being made?

I feel disappointed that women’s sport is being side-lined, while our male counterparts return to play during the pandemic. However, I do feel this has highlighted the inequality and our encouraged sports women to speak about these issues in the media. I am always proud of how far women’s sport has come and believe our progress has not been tarnished but there is still a lot that can be done to change the future landscape of women’s sport.

 The UK does try to champion women in sport advancement initiatives. What would you say is the most visible change?

“These initiatives are so important for championing and empowering women to go after their dreams and lead the way for future generations. Women supporting women is something I feel has been a very visible and positive change.” – Tracey speaks about women in sport advancement initiatives.

Something I have found from being a part of the Women’s Sport Trust unlocked programme, is that being surrounded by women who are passionate about making change really gives me the fire to keep going. These initiatives are so important for championing and empowering women to go after their dreams and lead the way for future generations. Women supporting women is something I feel has been a very visible and positive change.

 Who are your favourite women in sport and why?

I have always been a big fan of Alysia Montano who has already done such amazing things for women’s sport, particularly around maternity rights for sports woman. I think Dina Asha-Smith is an amazing female role model, I love her column with the Telegraph on women’s sport. I also really admire Coco Gauff for speaking so eloquently and being an advocate for change at such a young age.

What do you know now about yourself that you wish you knew when you started running?

I wish I knew how much sport would give me confidence, friendship and life skills. Perhaps If I knew then, I would have believed in myself a little more as a child.

What is your advice to young runners who are just starting off pursuing their track dreams?

Enjoy sport and all the things that come with it. Enjoying the process is key because there is no fear when you are having fun.

What is the one thing you are good at that some people may not know?

Maybe being creative. I love painting, up-cycling and my other working life as a makeup artist. I studied makeup at the Arts University Bournemouth, and I am really passionate about the work I do off the track.

What has sport taught you and how do you use these lessons in everyday life?

It’s taught me to be resilient, driven and to never give up!

What is your greatest ambition?

I would love to win a medal on the world stage and compete at the Olympic Games.

 

Photo 1 Caption: British middle-distance runner, Adelle Tracey’s inspirational life story of dealing with dyslexia through sport resulted in her appointment as the first-ever Challenge Events Ambassador for Dementia UK. Photo: Supplied

Photo 2 Caption: The 800m runner has been vocal about her challenges suffering with the learning disorder. She did however, find comfort in sport and creative arts. The ever incredible power of sport once again shone through as she admits that it gave her the confidence to face the challenges in all aspects of her life. Photo: Supplied

Photo 3 Caption: Tracey spent her early years in Jamaica before moving to the United Kingdom where she currently pledges her allegiance. She says that the 2000 Sydney Olympics sparked her interest in becoming a professional athlete and follow in the footsteps of her role models; Cathy Freeman, Denise Lewis, Paula Radcliffe, to name a few. Photo: Supplied

 

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