Published: 06:00, 19 June 2019
| Updated: 13:51, 19 June 2019
When Louise Evans turned 14 and starred in a school running competition, little did she know quite how much it would change her life.
She was urged by a friend to take up athletics and was taken under the wing of coach Carlo Monticolombi.
Louise soon found herself competing for Invicta East Kent and becoming prolific in her field, winning medals at county, regional and national level in the 300m and 400m.
Four years on - and under the guidance of her new coach, Olympic gold medallist Linford Christie - she is ranked fifth in the UK in the under-20 category and 26th overall for the 400m.
But the 18-year-old takes it all in her stride.
“I'm currently in my final term of school and balancing running with my exams, but athletics is my main passion and priority,” said Louise, from Aylesham.
“I don’t feel as though I miss out on what other people my age might be doing.”
Instead, she says she loves every minute of her training, which most would find quite gruelling.
“I train six days a week, a mixture of weight sessions and track, although I do get Monday off if I’ve been competing at the weekend,” she said.
Mr Christie sends her a plan and she trains at Canterbury Academy in the week.
She hopes to secure a place at Brunel University in September so she can train with him in London.
“I’m coached by Linford Christie and at the moment he sends me my plan and I train at the Canterbury Academy in the week, but I’m hoping to get a place at Brunel University in September so I’ll be able to train with him and the rest of the group as I’ll be in London - there are about 10 of us coached by him.
Louise currently has to leave the house at 5am on Saturdays to make training with the sprinter, which began in October.
“On a Saturday I have to leave the house at 5am to go up there to train with them," she said.
Louise, who previously ran for Invicta East Kent and is now with Blackheath and Bromley, started her training with the sprinter in October.
She was recently selected to represent Great Britain in the 4x400m relay - her GB debut - running the first leg at the Loughborough international meeting.
She finished second with a new personal best of 54.80 seconds, which at the time ranked her as the fastest U20 outdoors in the UK.
She admits it was an amazing experience and one she didn’t expect to happen so soon in her running career. But Louise has high hopes for the future.
“I would definitely like to get to the Olympics in 2024,” she said.
“To qualify I need to get around 51 seconds and my personal best is now 54.5 seconds. It doesn’t sound like much, but a second is a lot.”
The Sandwich Technology School student, who manages to squeeze in a cleaning job at Broome Park in Barham alongside her running and studies, admits she has no idea where her running talent comes from.
“None of my family are runners and my parents aren’t into athletics,” she said.
“My family are really supportive and encouraging and come to all my competitions,” she added.