Middle distance runner Eliza Nicholson always knew she was destined for the big stage but only recently realised that her spotlight would be on the athletics track.

After switching from pursuing a career in performing arts to competitive running, the 16-year-old from Sevenoaks won bronze for Team England in the women's 3,000m event at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago.

The Mander Portman Woodward student, who trains at Battersea Park Track, grew up auditioning for parts in Les Miserables and Matilda but, after many setbacks, is now thriving among a different type of competition.

“I always loved being centre of attention,” she said. “I did so many auditions and I’d always get down to the final two and never get it.

“To keep up the momentum to keep going and pursue a career like that is so hard.

“It can be a really difficult environment to constantly be turned down but I’m very determined.

“To see how much I've progressed over a matter of years in running has been amazing.

“If you told me a couple of years ago that this would be the case I genuinely wouldn’t have believed you.”

The emerging talent took up distance running in 2021 to curb her lockdown boredom and has since cut a sharp path to the top.

Nicholson qualified for the Games with a winning time of 9:30.05 in the U17s category at the South of England Senior and U20 Championships in June. 

After finishing her GCSEs in the same month, she admitted that qualification came as a surprise to everyone around her.

“I don’t think anyone expected me to progress at this rate,” she said.

“Everything is just getting crazier and crazier, the Commonwealths was never a thing.

“There were still girls ahead of me but I gave everything to this one race and I can't believe it’s me that has been selected to go to Trinidad and Tobago.

“I'm so proud of myself because there was a lot of time where I trained on my own, my own motivation is what kickstarted all this.”

As well as the track, Nicholson is also at home on cross-country terrain and came fifth in the British Schools U16 Cross Country Championships earlier this year in Liverpool.

She added: “Wearing an England jersey at the cross-country was amazing and that was in Liverpool so I don’t know what to expect when I go to Trinbago.

“I adore track so much but cross country also has a special place in my heart.

“The fact I did all of this during my GCSEs makes me think that I could keep it going. I love being busy and from now on running come first."