My 5 role models… with Amelia Strickler

My 5 role models and the ways they inspired me

This week Totally Runable’s Natalie Jackson spoke to Amelia Strickler, the Loughborough-based British shot put Champion heading to the Tokyo Olympic Games, about the role models who inspired her to back herself.

1. Cecilia Strickler (my Mum)

“My mum is my number 1 role model. She’s British, but my sister and I grew up with her in Bay Village near Cleveland, Ohio. My parents divorced when I was young, and she’s done so much for us both since then; it makes me emotional thinking about it! She’s supported my sporting dreams no matter what, and always ran us around everywhere, whilst working a full time insurance job. Her Dad was a thrower – I even have a medal of his in my track bag, and she played hockey when she was younger and still has her old stick, so we’ve always been sporty.

When I moved to the UK I lived with Mum for a year, and she was amazing. 2018 was tricky for me. With a torn calf I basically had to relearn how to throw, but she was so encouraging. It was great for her to see me win the British Champs. She was the first person I wanted to hug afterwards. I wouldn’t have been able to get through that year without her!

She always gives me the same competition advice; “get the first one in”. It doesn’t matter what level I’m competing at; she even said it about the European final!”

2. Zane Duquemin (my coach)

“Zane has been my coach since we met training in Loughborough when I moved to the UK full time, even though he’s now based in Doha so we talk via zoom and voice notes! He’s only 29 but he’s wise beyond his years, and he’s always telling me not to lose my cool in practice, which can happen! His advice was so important in helping me overcome injury in 2018 to win the British Champs.

The biggest impact he has is in pressure situations; he’s always so cool, calm and collected – even if I throw a PB! He never panics; and some of that has definitely rubbed off on me too.

3. Shot put legend Valerie Adams

“Valerie is a multiple World, Olympic and Commonwealth Games Champion, who’s been in the game so long that I grew up watching her on TV! I first tried shot put aged around 12 and was better than everyone else on my team. Valerie was the elite equivalent and I wanted to emulate that. I remember watching her win at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, when I was around 15. Her intensity and dominance was so inspiring; she did not show up at meets to lose! I competed against her at Commonwealths and had a total fan-girl moment – I told her what an inspiration she was and I was not cool. If I could redo that moment I would definitely act cooler! I can’t wait to compete against her at the Olympics this Summer. I won’t be fan-girling this time!”

4. Stacey Wannemacher, my first coach at University

“Stacey was only my coach for 2 years, along with a small team of throwers, but they were 2 great years. She played a big role in making me who I am today. Stacey turned me into a rotational shot putter, which was hard at first. She made me stick with it until I improved, which of course I did, which helped me make that jump to emerging elite level. She’s such a knowledgeable coach, and anything she didn’t know she would go and find out; even if that meant calling her friend, javelin legend Kara Winger, to find out!

She’s a lot of fun to be around and we’re still in touch on social media. She’s married to US shot putter Tia Brooks and if I need advice I know I can ask them!”

5. Serena Williams

“I’ve never met her, but Serena is an absolute inspiration. I’m a tennis fan and I’d be a tennis player if I wasn’t a thrower. I played as a kid and I think I could have been great if I’d stuck at it.

Serena has always been an advocate for women’s equality in sport, and for the Black Lives Matter movement. She fights to make things better for everyone, and that’s on top of her hard work and intensity as an athlete.

It’s important for Role Models to fight for fairness. She does that so well, and by speaking out on issues she encourages others to have important conversations.

I always watch the tennis majors and I’d love to go to Wimbledon one day to see her in person. I’ll look out for her in Tokyo. I’d have to act cool if I met her though!”