From Bawdsey to Belize
PUBLISHED: 12:11 16 June 2015 | UPDATED: 12:11 16 June 2015
She represents an exotic island over 5,000 miles away, but Commonwealth Games heptathlete Katy Sealy tells Dave Gooderham she keeps a special place in her heart for Suffolk
One is a Suffolk seaside hamlet of around 200 houses. The other is an exotic little-known country that crosses the Caribbean and central America. Meet the two very different worlds of Katy Sealy.
A Suffolk girl at heart, Katy’s other life as a heptathlete for Belize has seen her compete in two Commonwealth Games.
But how did a 24-year-old living with her parents in Bawdsey end up as one of the most accomplished athletes on an exotic island more than 5,000 miles away?
It is a story rich in family history and one that Katy is undeniably proud of. She is certainly not just wearing the blue and white of Belize to book her a spot in the Dehli and Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
“It always fascinated me that my dad was born in this other country – my grandparents lived out there in the 1960s.
“Most people have never heard of it before and I didn’t know where it was. At primary school, I used to say that Dad was born in this weird little country.
“It is a little bit strange as no one knows where it is, but I have always been proud to represent Belize.”
Katy didn’t think twice about embracing the central American country and she certainly hasn’t looked back on the track or field since winning medals for Belize across central and north America.
While her success might be achieved in far-flung destinations such as Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua, Katy’s little corner of Suffolk has still played its part.
“It is nice to still have a connection with Suffolk,” she said. “Bawdsey is a quiet, small village but I love being out in the middle of nowhere.
“I have a border collie and I take her out running with me. We jump in the car and go to Ramsholt or East Lane. She runs off and I run behind her,” Katy added.
However, for anyone who achieves anything in any sport, success does not come without sacrifice.
Katy - whose dreams of wearing an England vest ended at the Under-17s level as she trains six days a week, dividing her training sessions between her Bawdsey garage and also locations in Bury St Edmunds and Norwich.
And the gruelling schedule has forced her to prioritise her sporting ambitions.
“I have had to give up quite a bit. The hard thing is going out with friends - I don’t have time to. That is something I have accepted.”
Katy actually represented her adopted country a full year before she stepped foot on Belizean soil - and admitted the first-time experience was an ‘eye-opener’.
“I didn’t know what it was going to be like. I was just amazed. It’s quite poor and not very well-developed.
“For sport, they haven’t got anything. At that time, I went to see the coach and some of the athletes there just train on a field. There is a cricket ground where they also play football and it is rotated around between those two sports and the athletics.”
Her two Commonwealth Games brought mixed experiences for Katy. Injury forced her to withdraw early from Delhi in 2010 before she was chosen as the flag-bearer for the opening ceremony in Glasgow last year.
But whether it’s a “career highlight”, in the case of the latter, or the bitter psychological and physical pill of the former, Katy certainly doesn’t take anything for granted as she eyes a third Commonwealth Games in Australia and an unlikely shot at next year’s Olympics.
“To travel the world and do what I train for every day, you can’t ask for more,” she said. “If you’d said to me when I was 16 or 17 that I would have been to two Commonwealth Games I would never have believed you. I absolutely love it.”