Chris Perry – the MMU Sports Star Jumping for Joy
After a successful season of athletics came to an end late last month, emerging MMU sports star Chris Perry exceeded all expectation - overcoming all obstacles and breaking records along the way to cement himself as one of the universities top sporting prospects.
University sports star Perry is on track for big things in the coming season, with PB’s aplenty at his most recent track event. As Greater Manchester plunge into Tier 3 lockdown, I spoke to Chris via Zoom to reflect on his recent success and aspirations for the future within the sport.
Upon being asked, ‘Why hurdling?’ Chris laughed, before saying: “It’s a long story. I remember Christmas in 2017, I was training with Exeter Harriers in 100 - 200m sprint groups and I encountered some problems. Things were said amongst a group that were falling out socially – there were characters I would never associate with nowadays, as a result I wasn’t getting any progress. These things happen though, in every aspect of life.
"Not just sport.”
Eager for change, remarkably Chris left the group and went solo to form a one-man hurdling team – only joined by emerging junior athletes months later.
“Well, I became the hurdles group. For a couple of months anyway, then a few juniors moved up and others came, there was only ever 5 of us at a training session! It was great because I was one on one with the coach in personally directed training sessions, but I knew I need a change to get to where I am now.”
Frustrating injuries in 2018 ruled Chris out for 7 weeks - missing several races at a crucial time in his athletic development, but the Exeter-born 20 year old showed burning desires for success once more by switching to the 400m hurdles - a longer, dynamic race suiting a style Perry is accustom to running.
Speaking on the topic, Chris claimed: “We hit a brick wall with the 110m. In my opinion it’s the most technical event in athletics. Going into a season with an injury in such a technical event, the risks would have just put me an extra year behind.”
Post injury, with 2018’s South West Championships just a few weeks away, Chris knew he needed to be there.
He just didn’t know how.
After scrolling through the events entry page in search of a race, he hit the jackpot.
“3 weeks before the competition, I get to the 110m hurdles and I’m like, I could try that. Then I get to the 400m hurdles. I didn’t even know it was an event at the time!
I had a quick google… lower hurdles, more distance in between them. I’ve ran a 400m before, so why not put some barriers in the way?
I asked my coach whether I could give the race a go and he gave in eventually, essentially it was me blagging my way into the Championships – but I’ve got the county vest because of it.”
Now studying and training in Manchester alongside Head Coach Steve Green as part of the athletics team at MMU, Perry’s performance has excelled in recent months – like in late September, when he smashed his personal best in the 400m hurdles with a stunning time of 59.1 seconds at the last Trafford AC meet.
On the topic, Chris was quick to highlight his adaptation in training in light of local lockdowns, saying: “I’m quite lucky in the sense that I’m still able to train, my area wasn’t too badly affected by it. Around 2 months into COVID training I found some bamboo sticks in the garden, I had some electric tape and I got to work on some makeshift hurdles.
“It was a time of ingenuity and improvisation in the sport, across every sport really.”
Alongside hours of tireless training sessions and undoubted self sacrifice, Perry was quick to credit the support provided by Coach Green and the university with his ever-growing improvements. He stated: “Given all the choices I had, I definitely made the right one going to MMU. Nowhere is below you, but sometimes an athlete just doesn’t have the right set up to grow. I needed that.
"Most importantly though, I feel like I’ve found the right coach and system to help me improve and develop within the world of athletics. I’m not a scholar yet, but I emphasise the point yet. It’s something I definitely want to get onto in the next year.”
Aside from his athletic duties, Chris is developing his skills as a public speaker and podcaster.
His series entitled ‘ThatVoiceintheCrowd’ is available via YouTube, and touches on a variety of topics – such as mental health issues in sport.
“It’s a good distraction from work and training. It’s really catering to a creative side that I’ve only recently found. Everything from the website, the editing, sound and production, it’s all me.”
Check it out: https://www.tvitc.com/