Arantxa King says her partnership with mentor and Bermuda long jump team-mate Tyrone Smith has been crucial ahead of her second Commonwealth Games.
King, 24, burst onto the international scene aged just 16 at the 2006 Melbourne Games, which she admits was ‘memorable’ but ‘overwhelming’.
Now, eight years later, the Kentucky-based Stanford graduate has a collegiate career behind her as well as the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 World Championships.
She admits, though, that she’s found the transition from student life to pro career difficult as she grapples with a reduced competitive schedule — and the pressure of seizing those chances.
That’s where Smith, 29, who is also based in the US and who has competed in two Olympics, three World Championships and the 2010 Commonwealth Games, has stepped in.
“We are close,” King told the Bermuda Sun. “We talk almost once a week. I really look up to him — he is very much a mentor to me and a big brother.
“He’s been doing this for a long time and he has all sorts of experience.
“We both do the same event and so we talk about that and he gives me good advice, especially the past two years we have got a lot closer and he has been a good resource and mentor.”
Having competed just a handful of times this year, King is cautious about where her preparations leave her. But after missing the 2012 Olympic final in a tiebreaker — she finished 13th — she knows she has the ability to qualify.
She said: “I’ve been training a lot, just trying to get where I want to be.
“The hard thing for me is that I haven’t competed as much as I did before I graduated in 2012.”
“It’s been a bit of a struggle for me — the transition. I am used to getting better and competing and I thrive on that competition.
“It’s difficult having so few opportunities and because you get so few opportunities you put so much pressure on the opportunities that you do get.”
She added: “It’s been a struggle but it is something I have to get used to. The finals is always my focus and then to place but right now I am taking it one step at a time.”
Both King, who has a personal best of six metres 57cm, and Smith will take to the Hampden Park Stadium on Wednesday, July 30, for the preliminary competition, with the finals taking place on Thursday.
King says she can’t wait to experience the ‘special’ feeling of representing Bermuda again.
But she admits her first Commonwealth Games came as quite a shock.
“I competed in the Games when I was 16 and I wasn’t expecting that at all — it was the biggest competition I had ever been in. All the people... it was pretty overwhelming.
“Though I was young and inexperienced and I wasn’t expected to do much, it was the biggest meet I had ever done, for sure. It was interesting but memorable! I was wide-eyed about everything. Now I love that environment.”
She added: “The night before the Games the nerves will be off the roof but that’s something I thrive off — nerves and anxiety are good and you can turn that into good energy.
“I’ve always been looking forward to this summer and competing for Bermuda.
“It’s always very special. For me, it’s always something I get excited for,