Mark English

  1. Mark English became the 12th Sky Academy Sports Scholar in April 2015
    Mark English became the 12th Sky Academy Sports Scholar in April 2015
  2. Mark English: His Sky Academy Scholarship mentor is Darren Campbell
    Mark is fighting hard on and off the track to impress in Rio
  3. Mark English: Ready to surprise the 'best ever 800 runner'
    Mark is a rising star in the two-track event
  4. Mark English: Pipped by Poland's Marcin Lewandowski for gold in Prague in March
    Mark was pipped by Marcin Lewandowski for gold at the 2015 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague

I am a runner specialising in the 800m and from Donegal in Ireland. On the track in 2015, I just missed out on gold at the European Indoor Championships in Prague.

I finished behind winner Marcin Lewandowski from Poland to win Ireland's only medal of the meeting in the Czech Republic, having chased down Thijmen Kupers and dip over the line 0.05 seconds.

I am also a European bronze medallist outdoors in the summer of 2014 and along with the running, I have also been busy studying medicine at University College Dublin.

I joined the Sky Academy Sports Scholarship Programme in April 2015. It was a shock for me to hear that I'd be invited to join an academy with such talent. I have already been exposed to a number of invaluable experiences.

I had to overcome a fractured foot to make the Rio Olympics and made the 800m semi-finals.

Top 5 achievements

  • European outdoor bronze in Zurich
  • European indoor silver in Prague
  • Olympic semi-finalist in Rio (2016)
  • 2nd place in Diamond League in New York
  • 4th spot at Intercontinental Cup in Marrakech

HOW HAS BEING A SCHOLAR HELPED?

The media training session has been great and informative. It taught me that for TV interviews, 80 per cent of people only remember what they see - appearance and demeanor.

I found it striking that so few people (10 per cent) actually remember the content of what you say. I was interviewed, we played back the interview, and we both analysed what we saw.

Mark English: Pipped by Poland's Marcin Lewandowski for gold in Prague in March
Mark was pipped by Marcin Lewandowski for gold at the 2015 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Prague

I was the first to admit that I sounded robotic and needed to engage my emotions much more! It was something I seldom did because I was so focused on content. I also learned to slow down my speech and condense answers.

My three goals before the session were to be seen as outgoing, honest and affable when people view my interviews. Now I know how to achieve that.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting the chance to be interviewed live on the set for Sky Sports News HQ. The interview questions addressed tough issues in sport, such as the recent doping scandals, and I was happy to speak out about my strong stance on anti-doping.

These are questions, which must be asked and answered, and the interview was a wonderful platform to deal with these concerns.

It also gave me the opportunity to talk about my goals and expectations - including the World Championships and the build-up to the Rio Olympics.

The interview was actually seen by many of my friends back home in Ireland! And so the Scholars programme has helped me engage with my own community back home.

Mark English: His Sky Academy Scholarship mentor is Darren Campbell
Mark is fighting hard on and off the track to impress in Rio

The Q&A session with local students in the Careers Lab was fantastic. I found it very rewarding to talk about my experiences and was humbled by their keen interest in my athletics profile. I told them what winning felt like, the challenges athletes face, and the dedication required to make it in the sport.

I emphasized the importance of pursuing an education, because I think it is important to have something to fall back on when sporting careers end.

It felt good to provide information that might help any aspiring athletes in the future who have dual ambitions in academia and sport.

SPREADING THE WORD

I also enjoy writing about my experiences in the blogs on the Sky Sports digital platforms. There are many benefits to this, not least learning about myself, my audience and the world around me.

I think they are important for developing a brand around me as an athlete and for exercising my creativity.

The blogs help stir up conversations and get people talking, such as when I blogged about taking on world record holder David Rudisha in the 600m race in Ostrava in 2015.

Mark English: Ready to surprise the 'best ever 800 runner'
Mark is a rising star in the two-track event

This gives me drive to fulfill the ambitions I talk about. It is also important to give back to athletics fans by blogging and describing the outcomes of my races and my own personal struggles and toils on this journey.

This is an important tangible benefit for my sport of athletics. In one of blogs in 2015, I was able to speak publicly about the deaths of two of my medical school college mates and in the process derive comfort, strength and consolation.

Becoming a Sky Sports Academy Scholar has made a huge difference to my life and sport. In my current injury situation the financial assistance has given me the reassurance that I can afford to pay for professional rehabilitation.

MENTOR BOOST

It also relieves the pressure of worrying about day-to-day expenses. Recently, I have been teamed up with British sprint legend Darren Campbell as my Sky Academy mentor.

I feel privileged to have such an exemplary mentor as a role model. I know his expertise, wisdom and insights will be invaluable to help overcome my current injury and loss of form.

I have also received invaluable advice and contacts for rehab support in the UK if things do not improve. Overall, the support has been amazing in developing me both as a brand, person and athlete.

It is very reassuring to know that all staff involved with the Sky Scholars Program have a huge desire to support and care for us on our journey, particularly when things go awry.