Serena Blackwood

Serena Blackwood


Serena Blackwood is having the kind of year most student-athletes can only dream of. We were lucky enough to chat about her recent run of competitions, her life as a Year 13 student, and where she sees life taking her beyond Hills Road.

Serena goes for gold

“This year has been one of my proudest years so far’, she says when asked about her incredible run of success in 2023, and it’s easy to see why. Serena is currently the sixth fastest female 60m runner under-20 in the country, and she is 33rd in the overall women’s UK rankings; a phenomenal achievement for an A level student who has just turned 18. This year alone Serena has won a bronze medal at the London Indoor Games under-20 and senior, gold in the southern under-20 championships, came sixth in the England Athletics championships and was a semi-finalist in the UK Athletics Senior Indoor Championships with a current personal best time of 7.53 seconds.

When talking about her sporting goals Serena is clear that her intention is to reach the highest possible level. She says “My ultimate ambition is to compete in the Olympics. The trip to get there, though, is more significant.” The trip in question currently involves balancing training and competing, with A levels in Biology, Physical Education, and Psychology, a study program Serena chose to prepare her for university and a career as an osteopath. Serena’s drive comes from both a genuine passion for running and a drive to succeed. “Because of my love of sports, I always tell myself that I don't have a choice whether to go to training or compete in a competition” she says when asked about her motivation. “My Aunt, Dad, coach and sister are people I care most when it comes to making them proud.”

Serena began her journey as a runner in 2017 as a 100m and long jump hopeful. She soon found valuable life lessons in the rhythm of training and competing and enjoyed the success she had early on. She says, ‘Athletics taught me the importance of discipline, both physically and psychologically. The race you run will demonstrate how much effort you have put in.’ This is certainly true of Serena’s races this year, which have demonstrated a tremendous amount of effort, discipline, and determination as well as enjoyment. Watching her compete in the National British Indoor Championships in Birmingham live on BBC last month it is obvious how much fun she is having while competing at such a high level. Despite the pressure of such competition and the weight of her success, Serena remains humble about her achievements, referring to herself as ‘a talkative character’, and choosing to focus more on her journey than her destination. She clearly loves what she does and speaks of her sport with nothing but enthusiasm and gratitude.

When asked how she manages such a busy schedule she says "Competing alongside my studies is difficult. That takes a lot of determination and planning. Competing is a lot of fun for me because it's a completely different world than school or life in general. It's not as stressful for me, but that doesn't mean it's not tough. My teachers have been very understanding of how demanding my sport is during my time at Hills." Serena goes on to say that running actually helps her achieve balance in her busy life: "When I run, I don’t think about anything else because the world stops and all the tension from other things fade away. I always leave training feeling fulfilled."

If A levels, competing nationally, training, and maintaining a social and family life wasn’t keeping her busy enough, Serena has also set up a business. Switching from athlete to entrepreneur, Serena describes ‘Elegant Comb’, her hair braiding side-hustle: "The reason I started the business was not just for my own passion for hair, but also to bring some culture and admiration for black hair and beauty to Cambridge." She says the business is about ‘serving the community by sharing hair care knowledge.’ To find out more and to see Serena’s work, follow Elegant Comb on Instagram at @elegant.comb.

As Serena continues her journey to the Olympics she is keen to credit the people who support her day in and day out, "I would like to thank my coaches: Ben Davies, Sam Richards, and Jordan Newton, my family especially my aunt, dad and sister, to all my teachers from primary to now, and to all my friend who support me in my life."