‘I think to myself if they win medals and set new records, why can’t I?’

Danielle McGifford
Danielle McGifford

She may have to overcome some sizeable hurdles in the shape of Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill, but Rainford heptathlete Danielle McGifford is determined to make her mark in 2015.

After claiming under-20 heptathlon gold at the English Combined Events Championships in May last year, McGifford has only competed in two events so far in 2015.

But while she has been biding her time domestic rival Johnson-Thompson has been very busy, breaking the British high-jump and long-jump record before coming narrowly close to breaking the pentathlon world record as she claimed gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.

Add to the fact that Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill is set to make her long awaited comeback and the picture looks far from rosy for McGifford.

But rather than sit back and bemoan the crowded domestic scene, McGifford insists her rivals on inspire her on to bigger and better things.

“I watched the European Indoors and felt so bad for Katarina because she’d come so close to the world record,” she said.

“When you see some European athletes putting themselves out there it’s great but these people live around the corner from me and it makes me think if they can do it why can’t I?

“It motivates me more because it’s such a dominant sport in athletics and you’re going to have to be at the top of your game to get into the GB squad let alone win medals at major championships.

“I’m hoping to slide in there with those big names. I think because it would be such an achievement to be in a top three for major championship.”

McGifford’s talents have certainly not gone unnoticed as she was reselected on the SSE Next Generation programme.

The programme supports 100 young athletes across the United Kingdom and Ireland who have been identified as potential Commonwealth Games and Olympic medallists of the future.

Along with financial funding, the SSE scheme provides workshops and events with sporting legends such as Sir Chris Hoy, Darren Campbell and Judy Murray – and McGifford insists every little helps.

“You have to travel and put yourself up in accommodation and pay competition fees so the funding was a massive help,” she added.

“It’s sometimes that extra push you need to come to things like this and take a break from training.

“It’s nice to get away from it for while and it just gets you motivated and speak to people like Chris Hoy who get you motivated to get back into what you’re doing.”

* SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen