It seems that Josie Cram is following in her famous dad’s footsteps as she represents team GB on the sporting stage. Catherine Scott meets her.
“I sometimes wish that dad had pushed me a bit harder to follow one particular sport,” says Josie Cram. “I think he wanted us to make up our own minds, but I do wonder if I could have become an elite athlete.”
Josie, 28, is daughter of three-time world record holder and Olympic athlete Steve Cram.
But despite not being pushed by her parents, Josie, who has lived in Yorkshire for the last ten years, is now making her mark.
She has become the next generation of the Cram family to represent Great Britain on the sporting stage. She has just qualified to represent Great Britain in her age group at the duathlon World Championships in Denmark next year. And her prospects for a gold medal look good, as she won silver at last year’s World Championships in Canada, the same year she took up the sport. Duathlons are like triathlons, but without the swimming. The standard duathlon distances are 10km run, a 44km cycle and a 5km run – all on the road.
“I was always very sporty at school and did pretty well as a club athlete,” explains Josie who lives in Otley. “I did run but it was mainly cross country, but I really preferred the team sports like football and hockey.”
Josie says it was hard sometimes growing up with Steve Cram as you father,
“I started as an 800m runner. I was really nervous about standing at the start with the name Cram on my vest and then my name read out. I used to wish the ground would swallow me up as the expectation of people was so high after my dad’s success. But it wasn’t ever anything we resented. It’s just how it is growing up, we didn’t know anything different.”
She realises now that most of that pressure she put on herself.
“When I meet people my age who aren’t sporty they have no idea who my dad is.”
Along with Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett, Steve Cram, now 57, was one of the world’s dominant middle distance runners during the 1980s. He set world records in the 1500m, 2000m and the mile during a 19-day period in the summer of 1985. He was the first man to run 1500m under three minutes and 30 seconds. He won the 1500m gold medal at the 1983 World Championships and the 150m silver medal at the 1984 Olympic Games.
Despite her athletic heritage, Josie pretty much gave up running until her second year at the University of Leeds where she read economics. “Even then it was pretty much just a social thing and way of keeping fit.”
It wasn’t until she’d graduated from university and was working in finance that she met Olympian Laura Wakeman who is coached by Steve Cram.
“I get on really well with Laura and she has done so well. I started training at the track at Leeds Beckett University where she trains with my dad.”
But then she started to get injured and last summer she turned to cycling, initially as a way of staying fit.
“I unexpectedly discovered I was a half-decent cyclist, so decided to have a go at combining the two sports.
“I had thought about doing triathlon and although I am an OK swimmer I really didn’t like the thought of jumping into a freezing cold lake or river with loads of other people, so I decided to have a go at duathlon.”
She saw an event advertised for a duathlon event in Bedford and decided to give it a go. It just happened to be a qualifying event for the European championships and Josie, being the determined young woman that she is and a chip off the old block, qualified in her first ever event.
The European championships were in Spain and Josie came away with a bronze medal.
“I think my advantage is that running is my strength whereas with a lot of the other competitors it is the bike. I found I’m much more comfortable on the road in a big group. I find it a lot less stressful.
“My dad has always encouraged me to do the things that I enjoyed doing.”
In August this year she competed in the World Duathlon Championships in Canada.
“It was the most amazing experience,” says Josie. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
And although she knocked seven minutes off her time and came away with the silver medal in her age group, she was not as happy as you may have thought.
“I had been ill in the run-up to the competition and so I probably took it a bit easy in the first run, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to conk out halfway round. It’s given me motivation to get gold next year.”
Next year’s World Championships take place in Denmark and Josie has secured some sponsorship to enable her to compete.
“We don’t get any funding, we even have to buy our own GB vests, and so I am really grateful to Fuel 10k for their sponsorship which will allow me to compete in the World Championships and hopefully get gold.”
Josie says she got all the determination while her 24-year-old brother Marcus is probably more of a natural athlete, but without her drive.
“He can run without doing any training at all which is incredibly annoying, but unfortunately he doesn’t have my determination.”
Steve Cram is not only Josie’s dad, he is now her coach and also her boss. “It can be difficult at times,” she admits.
“Sometimes it’s boss, then coach and then dad. But we do have a lot of fun. Ultimately he is my dad first. We do work quite well together.”
Josie is proud of what she has achieved so far in her duathlon career.
“I wanted to do it on my own and not because my dad is Steve Cram.”
Josie Cram has secured sponsorship of £750 from breakfast brand Fuel 10k.
It is an unusual sponsorship method which asks friends to raise ‘points’ by sharing Facebook posts and answering surveys rather than by donating money directly to support her training costs.
Anyone who wants to help Josie reach her goal can do so at https://fuel10k.ralloo.com/support/josiecram/