My 5 role models… with Bethan Partridge

My 5 role models and the ways they inspired me

This week Natalie Jackson spoke to 2020 British Indoor High Jump Champion Bethan Partridge about those who inspired her to be a role model to others.

My family

“If we’re talking about my role models, I have to start with my Mum, Kate. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I remember being scared to do organised sport when I was really young, but after doing well in a local cross country competition my mum took me to a local athletics club. She even ended up being a team leader at the club after I joined! She must have spent hours and hours driving me to and from training, which only got further away as I got older and improved as an athlete. Mum wasn’t sporty herself, but she was always keen for me to be the best I could be. I definitely thought she was being pushy at times but now I see what she was doing, and I would absolutely do the same for my children.

I don’t remember having any particular sporting role models as a child, and I didn’t know any older athletes who might have been that for me, so I am always keen to be that role model for other people. My niece Lilly is 7 and she is tall like I was. I remember being self-conscious about my height when I was younger, but I want her to know that she can be confident about who she is. I make sure she sees me training and always make her do sport when she’s with me, whether that is squatting in the gym or running on a track! It will be a normal thing for her to be active and have fun with it.”

My training partners – past and present

“A training partner is a really important relationship for any athlete. They are someone you do your sport with, who is there day in and day out, through the good times and the bad. They are a friend who you work out with, but they are more than that. I have been privileged to have some awesome training partners and I have learned so much and been inspired by so many of them. If I had to name my top 3 they would have to be Emma Nuttall, Robbie Grabarz and Laura Samuel. Emma is a Scottish high jumper who always made training really fun, and who knew me well enough to push me, as I did her. Robbie is an Olympic Silver medallist and just has the best mindset. He would stay focused on his training but knew how to have a laugh. He was really good at the drills which helped me improve too. Laura is super talented, so I always aspired to be as good as her, and she made training fun too.”

My boyfriend (and coach!)

“Rob is my boyfriend, but he’s also my strength and conditioning coach. We’ve worked together nearly 6 years and he is just so supportive… to everyone not just me! He works with lots of athletes and has a positive impact on everyone in the gym, whether they train with him or not. He’s always pushed me to be the best version of me, both in and out of sport, and that is something I’d love to emulate for others. Helping younger athletes or training partners develop is really important to me, and Rob definitely inspires me in that, as he does it on another level.”

My competitors

“When I watch someone compete, in all sports but especially in my event, I find it so inspiring to learn someone’s story and hear more about what they have achieved. For some athletes competitors could be seen as a threat, but I love getting to know them, particularly if I am competing abroad. I remember at a competition in Sweden hearing other athletes talk about their insecurities and it made me see them differently. We can all be supportive and an inspiration to one another, as we are all going through the same things. Someone I have competed against who definitely inspires me is Erika Kinsey, a Swedish high jumper and 2007 European Junior Champion. She jumped really high as a junior but then suffered lots of injuries over a period of several years. Seeing her come back from those injuries and perform well again in the last few years has been super inspiring. When we’ve met she has always been so friendly, and her training always looks so much fun. We’ve chatted on Instagram too. She’d be an amazing training partner and is definitely an inspiration, as well as being my competition!”

Myself

“Not having any elite sporting role models that I looked up to as a child definitely made my journey tougher than it might have been. Because of that, I am passionate about inspiring other athletes and other people to be the best versions of themselves. I work in Loughborough schools with Totally Runable to use running as the tool to build girls’ confidence in and out of sport, and I love the messages we send. I look back at the last few years and I have to take inspiration from all I have achieved, which makes me a role model for myself too. I’ve been through a lot. In 2019 I took the decision to take more ownership of my training programme and aims. I haven’t always been confident enough to do that but after 16 years of training and competing at the highest level I was confident that I knew what was best for me, and that has paid off with my recent results, jumping 1.91m and becoming indoor British Champion.

With the team I have built around me, relying on myself and trusting that I know what is best, I am excited to see what I’m capable of in the next couple of years, including hopefully at the Olympic Games. I would definitely want to pass that message on to others. You can probably do more than you think!”