Alyssa Conley (aka ACSpeedstar) lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has completed her undergraduate degree in Sports Psychology and her Honors degree in Sports Management at the University of Johannesburg.
Alyssa first showed her talent and hard work as a youngster representing South Africa at the Pacific School Championships in Australia, where she placed second in the 200m and took gold in the 100m, in a record time of 12.05s.
As a youth and junior athlete she represented South Africa at the World Youth Championships in Ostrava in 2007, becoming the first youth female sprinter to make both finals in the 100m and 200m. In 2009 she represented South Africa at the World Junior Championships in Bydgoszcz, and took a step up in her career when at the 2009 Junior African Championships in Mauritius she placed second in the 100m and first in the 200m.
Even though Alyssa has faced many challenges with injuries during her career, she bounced back in 2016 by placing second at the All Africa Championships held in KZN and improving on her 200m personal best by clocking a 22.84s. She realised one of her long-time dreams when she became an Olympian by representing South Africa at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Give us a brief outline of your in-season training routine.
In-season training is all about maintenance – all the hard sessions have been done and now it’s all about keeping the shape you’re in and getting ready to race. We move from trainers into spikes, which is my favourite part of the season, because once I’m in spikes I feel like I can fly and there is nothing better then the feeling of the Nike Cellar meeting the track after a tough off-season. In-season training consists of short speed work, blocks, over-speed work and explosive gym sessions. I usually race once every two weeks during the season, so rest is important to prepare for race day. Therefore, I would usually have one or two rest days leading up to race day and an activation session the day before the race.
Are there big differences in your in- and off-season nutrition?
Not really. I have a period after my season where I let loose for a week or two, but I generally eat healthily. It’s become a lifestyle, but I’m still human so I love my sweet treats and my mom is the best baker, ever. Genetically, I pick up weight easily and as a sprinter my ideal weight is 63kg at 1.76cm, so I’m very strict on myself to remain within these parameters.
What advice would you give to a woman who wants to pursue a sport like yours?
Patience and hard work are key. There will be tough times and challenges, and you will feel like you want to give up, I know, I’ve been there, but just think about how much you’ve sacrificed thus far, and how hard you’ve worked, and why you started in the first place. Always follow your passion, for a life lived without passion is as good as not living at all.
What are your thoughts on female equality in your sport? Have you seen a growth in participation over the past few years?
Sadly I’ve seen my sport dying when it comes to female participation, and the only reason is exposure. Females in track and field lack exposure compared to the males. Take the 2017 World Championships as an example – there were only six females chosen to represent S.A and 18 males. Girls who have an interest in track and field are exposed to all this negativity surrounding the sport, and prefer to let go of their dreams and pursue something else.
What’s something you wish you knew when you started?
How to physically condition my body. I feel I have run on raw talent for most of my career and it caught up to me, which resulted in a number of serious injuries. I believe if I had the knowledge on how to condition my body for track and field, I would be ranked in the top five in the world.
- Double national champion 2016/17
- 2009 All Africa Junior Championships (Mauritius)
- 100m silver
- 200m gold
- 2016 All Africa Championships
- 200m silver
- 100m 11.23 sec
- 200m 22.84 sec
- 100m – 50th
- 200m – 25th
- 100m – 6th
- 200m – 3rd
South Africa Rankings
- 100m – 2nd
- 200m – 1st
Find Alyssa on Instagram