Several years later Anyika had to face an entirely different challenge. At a time when Anyika was starting to fly high in her career, all came to a shuddering halt and the possibility of never walking again, never running again, never competing again, let alone make the Olympics squad was to become reality. In October 2015 Anyika travelled to Nigeria and unfortunately contracted the disease Malaria. At a time when she should have been ramping up her winter training Anyika was, instead, extremely ill for several weeks. If her diagnosis had come just a few hours later the outcome could have been worse for her; a lot worse. She was told by her consultant that she was lucky to be alive. The time spent in hospital was extremely tough and there were days when Anyika wondered if she would make it out but after experiencing extreme fevers Anyika started to build her strength; quite literally step by step. She first learnt how to walk again then started to run and eventually got back to the training track. 10 months after contracting the disease Anyika was stood on the Olympic podium.
Anyika only told a couple of her GB squad team mates about her illness, she did not want to use it as any kind of weakness. In contrast her experience has taught her quite how much strength she does have.
Anyika’s story is one of perseverance, whether that is dealing with body confidence issues, fighting harder following non-selection or working hard to get back to fitness after a life-threatening illness. An eloquent and engaging speaker with a story that will inspire many to dig deep and understand that there is always more strength in our tank than we first think.
In November 2019 Anyika announced her retirement from athletics after a 20-year involvement in the sport.