Corinne Humphreys came to sprinting pretty late for a world-class sprinter. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that a coach saw her potential and took her under his wing. Having represented England in the Commonwealth Games, she’s now looking to be part of Team Great Britain in the Olympic Games.

Yet as she aims for the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, Humphreys has had to deal with recovering from another injury while simultaneously being held back by COVID regulations.

“This is definitely the hardest thing I’ve had to navigate, even harder than coming out in sport,” she told me on the latest episode of the Five Rings To Rule Them All podcast.

That’s saying a lot. While Humphreys came out as gay to those she loves when she was a teenager, it was almost a decade later that she came out to her fellow elite-level runners. That journey, from age 17 to 26, involved unlearning what she had been taught about being a lesbian all of her life.

“I can only liken it to [thinking you have] some sort of disease. That’s how I used to hear it because of how things were said to me when I was quite young, when people tried to bully me because of how I carried myself.”

She carried herself, like she said, as a “tomboy.” Her besties were boys and she played sports. She didn’t “fit in” with a lot of the more feminine girls around her growing up.

To that end, we also talked about the best way to help LGBTQ athletes overcome the messages and bullying they might hear about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Humphreys feels strongly that the way forward isn’t to spend countless hours stopping the childish attacks that will come regardless, but to empower the LGBTQ youth to live their lives through it.

‘If you feel empowered, no matter who you are, whatever comes to you you’re going to be prepared to just know how to deal with it and stand up for yourself.’

“It’s the empowerment. And there’s so much strength tin that. Kids are going to be kids. And when you grow up, people are going to be people. You can’t control what people think and how they act, but you can control how you deal with those situations. And I think if you feel empowered, no matter who you are, whatever comes to you you’re going to be prepared to just know how to deal with it and stand up for yourself.

“I didn’t have people standing up for me so I was the only person I could rely on when I was coming out. Because nobody else was actively fighting in my corner.”

You can listen to the conversation with Olympic hopeful Corinne Humphreys on the Megaphone player, or by visiting Spotify for an easy browser player. Five Rings To Rule Them All is also available on Google Podcasts, Apple podcasts and many more platforms. Just search for Outsports wherever you get your podcast.

And be sure to follow Five Rings To Rule Them All on Twitter.

You can follow Humphreys on Instagram and on Twitter.