North-east athlete Alix Still is enjoying life to the full in the United States and has no plans to return home on a permanent basis any time soon.
The 20-year-old multi-events specialist, who comes from Kemnay, is in her third year at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
She is working towards a degree in American Studies in tandem with progressing her track and field career.
Still has another year to go before graduating and, although she’s not sure where she’ll end up, the former Scotland youth international is keen to stay Stateside.
She said: “I have grown to love the US and I have definitely become accustomed to the American lifestyle.
“I wish my family could move over here with me, because it was hard leaving home at 16, but they did come to visit me as much as they could pre-Covid.
“I had planned to come home in May last year once my outdoor season in America was over, but my flight home got cancelled because of Covid, so I stayed in Virginia for the summer.
“It was hard knowing I wasn’t going to see my family for a whole year, but I was able to talk to them a lot on FaceTime which helped me.”
She added: “Looking ahead, I would love to be involved in the sports marketing field and there are a lot of great places in the US which offer access to this, unlike back home.
“So, for now, I am going to continue working hard in my athletics and education to see where that leads me. If I have to come home I will.”
Aside from missing her family, Still admits the past year also proved difficult from an athletics standpoint.
She said: “The coronavirus pandemic was definitely a challenging time for me, just like every other athlete, as it was often hard to stay motivated and even find facilities or places that were open.
“However, I found it important for myself to figure out a plan or routine that I stuck to each week.
“For example, I got up and trained at the same time each day as I normally would. That helped.
“I wasn’t able to compete much in 2020, except from a couple competitions at the beginning of the year before March.
“I was feeling very strong and confident in myself and my training and I was expecting to have a great outdoor season, so I was upset I wasn’t able to put my hard work into action.”
She is, however, now making up for lost time and has made an impressive start to 2021.
With the American indoor collegiate season getting under way over the past few weeks, Still has been showing the best form of her life.
She opened up by posting a personal best high jump of 1.71m at the Virginia Tech Invitational then hit her best pentathlon score of 3,781 points at the Hokie Invitational last weekend. It’s the 11th best indoor score of all-time by a Scot.
Still said: “The high jump PB was a big moment for me as I have been attempting to clear 1.70m for the past four years.
“I lost a lot of my confidence with high jump over the years, but I worked on it a lot over quarantine so I was very happy when I cleared 1.71m.
“It felt good knowing I am capable of opening my season with personal best performances despite my training not being as consistent as I would have liked it to be due to Covid.
“I feel as though I am back on track and performing better physically and mentally. It is a great feeling knowing I can get personal bests so early in the season and it has given me great confidence going into the spring season.
“The high jump PB definitely helped me going into the pentathlon as I knew what I was capable of.
“I jumped 1.67m last weekend, which is the highest I have ever jumped in a pentathlon, so I gained a lot of extra points from that one event.
“My overall score was 3,781 points, but I really wanted to get to the 3,800 mark. I was slightly upset about that, but I am still very confident I can improve in each event, which will get me there.”
Still will get another opportunity to hit her target at the end of February when she competes in the pentathlon at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships at Clemson, South Carolina.