A Liverpool heptathlete who was crowned World Champion in 2019 has opened up about her experiences of racism at a mainly-white school.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson revealed that she was first called the N word at the age of nine, and encouraged to play Scary Spice rather than Sporty Spice in a dance troupe.
Writing for Vogue, she said: "The first time I got called the N-word, I was nine-years-old – singled out by a boy in my class, who already knew that this was a way to hurt me without even understanding why."
She added: "I was definitely more Mel C than Mel B, yet when me and some classmates sang “Wannabe” in my Year 6 leavers assembly, the obvious casting for me was Scary Spice, not Sporty."
Describing herself as "not a confrontational person", Katarina said she often felt responsible for deciding when to speak up about things that were hurful.
She wrote: "In geography, when a classmate points to the country Niger, pronouncing it wrong and giggling, are you meant to laugh along?"
The Liverpool FC fan also described going to a football match at the age of 14 and "inwardly rooting for all the Black players" because of her fear that they "would receive racial abuse" if they messed up.
More recently, Katarina said she had been told to "stick to talking about sports" after posting a list of books online for her followers to read about race and identity.
She wrote: "As a sportsperson, I’ve been conscious to make my opinions bland and non-committal. But I can’t on this one. Black lives matter."
In 2019, Katarina became the city's first ever athlete to win a World Championship gold medal.
The 26-year-old heptathlete won gold in the 2019 World Championships taking place in Doha, Qatar, finishing ahead of Olympic and defending champion Nafi Thiam after coming first in the 800 metres, the seventh and final event.
The previous year, she won gold in the heptathlon at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, before taking home the silver medal at the 2018 European Championships with a personal best score of 6759 points, which moved her into the World all-time Top 25.
Keep up to date with news in your area by adding your postcode below
She is a firm friend of another twenty-something star from Liverpool, Jodie Comer, and the Killing Eve actress was quick to congratulate her on her success.
After Katarina's article was published, Jodie shared her support with a picture of her friend on Instagram and wrote: "Morning everyone, please take time to read this beautiful article written by one of my best mates. The one and only (karaoke queen)."
Their friendship dates from being students at Catholic girl's school St Julie's.
At the time of Katarina's triumph, a spokesperson for the school said: "Katarina demonstrated great potential from a very young age.
Top news stories
"She always supported others and was a real team player in school. During her time at St. Julie's she demonstrated true strength of character with her determination, courage and resilience.
"These key traits were instilled in Katarina from a very young age. She overcame many challenges as she developed her sporting talents and never gave up.
"Her legacy at St. Julie's has meant that other young students aspire to be successful in their own chosen fields of endeavour."
Katarina Johnson-Thompson continues to work with the Liverpool FC foundation and her own KJT Academy to help aspiring athletes.