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CHATTING WITH By Rachel Argyle

Mica Moore

For someone who has made a name for herself in the ice cold world of Winter sport, they don’t get much warmer than Mica Moore. Today was no exception, as she greeted me with a big smile at her “second home” – the National Indoor Athletic Centre at Cardiff Met. When she’s not training, she’s studying a Masters in Sport Broadcasting – a gruelling timetable she seemingly takes in her stride.

But making time for relationships and a social life? “That’s probably something I don’t manage so well” she admits. It’s no surprise that the one thing Mica would change about her life is to “add a few hours onto each day.” “I’m lucky that my boyfriend [Welsh decathlete Curtis Mathews] trains in the same group as me” she explains. “We have a good level of understanding when one of us needs to focus on sport or when we need to do something fun or chill out.”

She says her friendship group are the “best ever.” “I’m always having to bail on nights out or am not available” she admits, “but they will always keep in contact and are so supportive.” It’s clear that a close support network is important to the 26-year-old, who has been coached by her dad since the age of 17.

“There wasn’t one sport I chose when I was younger, I did gym, horse riding, hockey – a bit of everything, with no choice needed.” When she hit 15, she saw her friends going out more and started to stray away from sport a bit. It was then that her Mum encouraged her to join a club. “I’d make a lot of friends through sport, so I didn’t miss out and I made a choice to put my all into athletics.” Her decision paid off as she went on to represent Wales in the 4 × 100 metre relay at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

“It works really well” she reflects. “We’re both laid back, so we don’t lock horns. I get frustrated with my own performances and I’ll let that out, but it’s not directed at him. It helps that I no longer live at home, and we don’t talk athletics outside of training.” Mica’s upbringing helped shape her into a sports star. Both her parents have always been sporty and they instilled this passion into her at a young age. In fact, back in 2008, Mica won the 100m and 200m events at the under-17 Wales National Championships, where her mother Lolita also won 100m and 200m Masters at the same event. “That was really cool” recalls Mica. “Seeing her achieve later on in life made me proud. When I was a lot younger, I was quite shy, so it was nice to have my Mum there. We’re a close family and I’m an only child – I’m lucky to get along with my parents.” It wasn’t until the age of 15, that Mica was ‘guided’ into athletics by her Mum who encouraged her to go along to Newport Harriers in her home town. “As soon as I could walk, I was doing gymnastics” she explains.

Following the Games she fell ill with a virus while at a training camp in Arizona, leaving her worried about meeting the qualification for the next Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast. It was during this time that she was introduced to Bobsleigh. Her speed and strength helped her pass trials with flying colours and she went on to be selected for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. “Trying something brand new was daunting” admits Mica, whose only knowledge of the sport came from the film Cool Runnings! “I eased myself in gently and the sprinting experience really helped my start – the two sports compliment each other.” The main thing Mica found was how Bobsleigh helped her psychologically. “Before running a 200m, I would feel anxious but now it doesn’t seem so scary!”

There wasn’t one sport I chose when I was younger, I did a bit of everything,

I asked if she’s a bit of a thrill seeker? “NO!” she exclaims. “I hate rollercoasters, I’m petrified of them. I am scared of heights and hate fast things, so it is quite bizarre that I gave bobsleigh a go really.”

I'm not worried. I've got my Plan B's in place

She says she was lucky to be in the safe hands of her driver and team mate Mica Mcneill. The two Mica’s were hit with bad news in the lead up to the Winter Olympics, when they lost their funding. The British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association (BBSA) chose to support three men's teams on the basis that they represented better medal prospects. “It was devastating” she adds. The pair went on to launch a social media campaign and won the hearts of the country. News of their setback spread and a crowd funding page helped reach their target and dream of representing Team GB. “To think that people read our story and invested in us was amazing" gushes Mica. With financial backing from supporters, the potential added pressure didn’t faze them. “People seemed happy for us to be there, whatever the result, but we were glad that we could do them justice” says Mica, whose Bobsleigh had 'Powered by the People' emblazoned across it. The pair finished in 4th place, outperforming the men’s teams. What strikes me when chatting with Mica, is how she is mature beyond her years. She is a woman with a plan, but an agility to change course when needed.

“Age is just a number, but it is something I think about when it comes to sport” she tells me. “In four years’ time, I’m going to be 30 and it’s going to be a struggle to get to the Commonwealths, but so many sportspeople are achieving a lot as they mature.” She chats about sport coming with a “shelf life” and is aware of how her path differs from her peers. “As a sportsperson, I sometimes feel like my life is a little bit behind, compared to my friends” she tells me. “They might be settling down, buying houses, being promoted in their career but I never feel worried about what will happen next, because I’ve got my plan b’s in place.” Spending much of her time mastering the art of Broadcasting, both in front of and behind the camera, is one of these plans. For now, she juggles her University studies with a comeback to athletics.

“Coming back to sprint has been amazing on the whole, but it was almost a flat feeling at the start line because I’m not looking down an icy chute and I’m not going to die!” she laughs.

Speaking of the ‘mind’ – sport is what helps the Newport athlete unwind. When she’s not training for an event, she still enjoys a session at the gym for fun.

“I needed to work on my mindset, so I created a whole new music playlist to prep for competitions.” Her motivational tune of choice? ‘September’ by Earth, Wind and Fire.

Feeling exhausted just listening to her busy timetable, I ask her if she ever sits still. “I do love sitting down, putting some candles on and watching a Disney film” she admits.

I was intrigued to hear of any other rituals she uses pre-race. “When I was growing up, I had loads, but it got to a point where it got in the way” she tells me. Black nail polish, socks put on the ‘right way’ and watching The Hunger Games the night before a competition were part of her routine.

Her favourite films speak volumes about the type of woman she is – Pocahontas, Mulan and Moana – “all the strong female leads” she points out.

Now, and with the help of sport psychologists post-Glasgow, she doesn’t worry too much about them. “I usually watch something motivational and music helps psyche me up.”

When she felt nervous before the Winter Olympics, it was a quote from Disney’s ‘Ratatouille’ that echoed in her mind: “only the fearless can be great,” something she has since had tattooed onto her as a constant reminder to be brave.

It seems to be working. She’s been running consistently in training and is close to a PB. Most of all, she says she’s enjoying athletics. “Happiness drives me” she says. “As long as I love what I do, that’s the main thing and the results will come. I’m in the best shape of my life and I want to give it one big push with athletics.” She hasn’t ruled out adding another string to her bow. “I am finding long jump really fun, apart from the sand everywhere!” she jokes. “An athlete can have so many different attributes to offer different sports. I like a challenge and to mix it up, it’s good for the mind.”

Happiness drives me. As long as I love what I do, that's the main thing

So, what’s next for the athletic powerhouse? “My dream is to compete for Wales again in the Commonwealth Games” she says. “As a Welsh person, there is no better feeling and I loved Glasgow. With the next Games being in Birmingham, there are not many people that can say they’ve done two home games during their career.” And as for Bobsleigh? “Now I’ve mastered the skill, it’s something I can go back to as there are some competing in their 30s and into their 40s – hopefully I’ll be retired by then though!” On that note, our chat comes to an end and with a bounce in her step, Mica is off for her second training session of the day …

April 2019

Profile for Sport_Wales

Chatting with ... Mica Moore  

We caught up with Welsh athlete Mica Moore on being coached by her Dad, her fear of rollercoasters and her love of Disney films. Read the fu...

Chatting with ... Mica Moore  

We caught up with Welsh athlete Mica Moore on being coached by her Dad, her fear of rollercoasters and her love of Disney films. Read the fu...