PLYMOUTH hurdler David King says he is ‘over the moon’ at securing a place on Great Britain’s team for this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo and has thanked everyone who has helped him fulfil his dream.
King was officially confirmed in the GB squad on Friday after receiving a World Athletics invite, which was accepted by British Athletics as he had met their qualification standard.
“I’m made up – really over the moon, although it is still really surreal at the moment,” said King.
“Watching the world rankings this week was very stressful. I knew it was unlikely I would be pushed out, but you never completely relax. It wasn’t until yesterday that I could finally relax.”
Becoming an Olympian has always been King’s dream since taking up athletics.
He was so close to achieving it in 2016. He thought he had run the qualifying time to go to Rio at an international meeting in Switzerland but it was not ratified.
“I was really close and I had that one time that didn’t count but I can honestly say I didn’t feel I had earned a spot then,” said King, who has won three British outdoor titles and competed at the World Championships, European Championships and Commonwealth Games.
“But 2020/2021 was always the one which I knew would be my time, so to come through and achieve it is amazing.”
But it has been far from easy for King. He hasn’t had funding for a few years and has tried to combine his athletics with various jobs and projects.
However, at the end of the 2019 season he decided he had to try something different to try and make the Olympic team and so decided to join a new training group in Phoenix, America.
It meant leaving friends and family, digging into savings and also asking for help – something he did not find easy.
“This time two years ago it didn’t look like it was going to happen for me,” said King.
“I did have some amazing success with my old coach James, but I really did need a huge change.
“I am so glad I made it in time to come good and improve when I needed to improve. It was such a huge risk at the time, but it has paid off.
“My whole career I have made sacrifices. I have always had part-time jobs to try and fund my athletics, but it was when I went to Phoenix where I realised I just had to focus on my training.”
“It was the first time I had asked for help,” said King. “I was really putting my pride aside when I asked for help.
“Yet so many people helped and donated towards my training and expenses and to be able to tell every single person who donated that it was worth it, is huge to me. I feel so much better.
“It was always a worry ‘what if all these people give me money and I can’t give them anything in return’. That worry was always there but suddenly that’s gone and I’m so happy.
“This was always a dream – now it is about enjoying it.
“I am going to be on the start line in Tokyo and I want to have some fun.
“I want to enjoy the sport for the reason I got into it.
“It is so difficult to enjoy sport when there is so much pressure on you to jump through so many hoops and achieve certain things to be able to realise your dreams.
“When you are chasing a time, it is really stressful. The pressure almost stops you from enjoying it. I have definitely felt that in the last few years.
“It is only once you have ticked all the boxes that you can start to enjoy it.”
The Olympic experience will be a lot different this year due to Covid-19.
Time in the Olympic village will be reduced and mixing between athletes will be kept to a minimal. Family and friends will not be able to attend and stadiums will not be full. There also probably won’t be the famous athletes’ party at the end of the Games, but that does not worry King.
“For me it is not about the parties or anything else, it is just about calling myself an Olympian – knowing I have achieved the dream I have always had.”
King will be in action on Sunday when he competes at the Diamond League meeting in Stockholm before moving on to Budapest for a World Gold Tour meeting.