RACHEL Hunter knows she has matured because she is no longer trying to prove things to other people. These days the only person she is trying to prove anything to is herself.

In less than three months, Scotland’s top hammer thrower will compete at her second Commonwealth Games but in her days as an up-and-coming junior athlete, there were people who told her that she did not have the talent to make it to one Commonwealth Games never mind two.

What is even more disheartening is that the people telling Hunter were the very same people who should have been doing their best to build her up – her coaches.

But despite the negativity she faced, Hunter is glad of the challenges she faced in the early days of her career.

“In the past, I was really trying to prove things to other people and in the lead-up to Glasgow 2014, when people were saying I’d never get there, I did want to prove them wrong,” she said. “But now, I feel like it’s only about me, it’s not about other people. It was really hard but I think it’s helped me develop mentally as an athlete. If someone says I can’t do something, I’ll always try to do the opposite. I’m very stubborn, but in a good way.”

The 24-year-old from Ayrshire has certainly silenced her doubters. After making her Commonwealth Games debut in 2014, she then picked up her first GB cap the following year. Since then, she has established herself as Scotland’s best hammer thrower and she will travel to Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games as a far more experienced athlete.

At Glasgow 2014, Hunter performed admirably, finishing sixth in the hammer final but she will arrive in Gold Coast with higher expectations.

"I feel like I’m a stronger athlete now – both physically and mentally,” she said. “I think that you grow mentally the more you compete and the more competitions you have, the more you learn. And any bad competitions I’ve had – I’ve known why it’s been a bad competition and I’ve learnt from it.”

Hunter’s experience at Glasgow 2014 also helped teach her how to deal with pressure. The build-up to the athletics competition was intense and the way the timetable worked out, Hunter ended up being the first Scottish track and field athlete to compete. It was, she admits, a surreal experience.

“I didn’t know in advance that I’d be the first Scot to compete, I only found out as I was walking out,” she recalls. “As I walked towards the circle, the noise was getting louder and louder and I was looking around and the cameras were all on me. It was terrifying. But now, I feel much more confident and I know how to throw under pressure. So if I can compete in Hampden in front of a home crowd then going to Australia should, hopefully, not be as pressurised.”

As with a number of Scottish track and field athletes, Hunter combines training and competing with a day-job. She is a qualified nurse but now works as a bank nurse – which is like a locum - in order to keep up with her sport. The two careers are quite a contrast, but that is exactly what Hunter likes.

“I love my job – I’ve always been a caring person and I love helping people,” she said. “And I love that I have my work and I have my sport – I’ve never wanted everything in my life to be about sport so I feel like it’s really good having the balance between the two. The set-up I’ve got now is really good too –it gives me a lot more flexibility and it means I can do my work around my training rather than my training around my work.”

Hunter may have had some bad experiences with coaches in her younger days but there is no chance of any bad treatment coming from her current coach. For the past two years, Hunter’s dad has coached her and while a father-daughter relationship would not suit every athlete, Hunter could not be happier with the arrangement.

“It’s awesome having my dad coaching me – he understands me and I understand him,” she said. “It just works. He’s coming to Gold Coast and he’ll be accredited so he’ll be in the Village but that’ll be fine. I know some people get embarrassed by their parents but I’m not. And now, I can’t imagine anyone else coaching me now because we get on so well.”