A decorated junior hurdler, Alicia Barrett is one of the most impressive athletes to watch when she is in full flight. Her career so far has already seen her achieve Gold and Silver medals at English U23 and Senior Level, as well as winning a Silver medal in the prestigious British Championships earlier this year.

Despite this commendable accomplishment, Barrett regards this summer to have been a little under par, performance wise. Delving a little deeper, however, you discover that the Sheffield Hallam graduate is far more than just an athlete.

2019 saw her complete an undergraduate degree in History with a 2:1, a challenge which she enjoyed, but admits took its toll on her ability to perform on the track. For most students, the challenge of writing a dissertation and revising for other modules is enough to fill every day, but Barrett explains how she combined all the usual demands of being a student with a heavy training schedule. The young hurdler has a very mature and pragmatic approach when reminiscing on this difficult period. Whilst on paper she may not be satisfied, she describes how “each race this year, whether in Manchester, Luzern or Tampere taught me so much about myself as a professional athlete.” This learning curve, she adds, has only served to increase her motivation going forward into 2020.

And the 2020 season holds very exciting prospects for Barrett, as she will be a full-time athlete for the first time. She feels that this is where the financial support provided by the Jean Pickering scholarship will really come into its own, by allowing her to fund her athletic lifestyle whilst she maintains full focus on improving her hurdling. Sensibly though, she isn’t allowing her whole identity to become wrapped up in being an athlete. She has already enrolled in a photography night school, where she can switch off from her training and fulfil another of her passions.

For Barrett, the Jean Pickering scholarship has always been about more than financial support. She puts it beautifully when she describes feeling “so grateful to be a part of this family.” To her, it means that “if I ever need any help with anything there are a number of trustees I can always contact to help me out.” And this isn’t a one-way support network: Barrett is quick to give back whenever she can. For the past few years, she has attended the London Marathon to support and welcome in the “Ronners” who are raising the money on which the memorial fund relies upon to fud its grants to athletes. As an elite athlete, she has an acute understanding of the effort and dedication that goes into tackling a feat such as the London Marathon, and as a recipient of the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, she has a first-hand experience of the benefits that result from the Ronners efforts.

Alicia has big challenges of her own coming up next year, the pinnacle of these being the Tokyo Olympics, but she is confident and ready for them. The numerous opportunities that will come her way mean that she is definitely one to keep your eye on.

Text:  Ashleigh Spiliopoulou

Pictures: Mark Shearman (Athletics Images)