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UK Athletics

The Power of Ten - Progression

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Steph Twell
Twell - commanding performance at World Junior Championships


Following an eventful summer of track and field competition, many athletes will choose to review their competitive season, and one of the key features of the Power of 10 website is to encourage young athletes to progress.


And what better way to kick off our series of progression articles than to look closer at the young career of one of the UK’s strongest endurance athletes, who is still competing within the junior ranks.


Steph Twell (Aldershot, Farnham & District) has just been awarded the Waterford Crystal European Athletics Rising Star award after another superb year for the 19-year-old middle distance athlete.


Twell, who is coached by Mick Woods, won the IAAF World Junior Championships 1500m gold medal in July  - and is now following in the footsteps of heptathlete Jessica Ennis, who took the inaugural rising star award 12 months ago.

It was a magnificent moment for Twell who had first had a look at the World Junior stage in 2006 in Bejing and used that experience to good effect in taking the title in Bydgoszcz, Poland earlier this year.


It confirmed her immense class, having more than demonstrated her considerable ability on the country during the winter. Twell is of course the defending European Cross Country Junior champion – and she made history in Toro in December 2007 when she took that title for the second year in a row.

"That was incredible. To just win one title was fantastic, to defend it and go into the history books is something that seems like a dream," said Twell after coming home nine seconds clear of her nearest rival in last year’s race.

More significantly she is still in the junior age group and will seek to make history with a third consecutive title this winter in Brussels on 14 December.


However it was perhaps her track performances which have gained her most recognition in 2008. Despite the disappointment of missing the World Cross Country Championships through injury, ever determined, Twell focussed her season on regaining form in time for her World Junior effort.


And in a tense World Junior 1500m final she unleashed a stunning last lap to hit the front with 200m to go and cross the line in 4:15.09. 


In the immediate aftermath of her victory in Bydgoszcz, an emotional Twell said: "I can now go out and be a great senior athlete because of what I learned here . I came away from here learning a lot, how to race more tactically, be strong at racing and just don't be dictated to by the Africans, but just to show them that I am here to ruffle a few feathers too."


Yet despite the enormity of her achievement, instead of rest, Twell had her eye on the remaining berth in Team GB to run the 1500m at the Olympic Games. Just five days after her victory in Poland, she ran 4:05.83 at the Golden League meeting in Paris for the fastest time by a junior women in the world this year and selection to the Olympic team.


Steph Twell XC 2003
Twell - at XC relays in November 2003


At the Olympics, Twell again proved herself to be the top teenager over the distance as she ran 4:06.68 to finish sixth in her heat, just missing out on a place in the final although she left many more experienced runners trailing in her wake.


The significance of the moment was noted by Power of 10 statistician Rob Whittingham:


“Of course she did not win a medal or even make the final, but doing well whilst celebrating her 19th birthday at the Olympics is shades of Daley Thompson in 1976 where he celebrated his 18th birthday,” he said.  “We know where Daley went from there!”


Twell has been on Power of 10 rankings for all three years and the historical data that can be seen on the athlete page shows her progress in the 1500 from the age of 14 (4:45.98)


Age                  Time

14                    4.45.98

15                    4.26.74

16                    4.25.05

17                    4.12.76

18                    4.06.70

19                    4.05.83


She also had a strong finish to her track season with a place in the IAAF World Athletics Final 3000m reaping a swift 8.50.89 on 14 September.


This enables us to compare Twell with Paula Radcliffe at 3000 metres


Age      ST                   PR

17        9:07.41            9:41.4

18        8:53.34            9:23.29

19        8:50.89            8:51.78

20        ???                  8:40.40


The next target is clearly there for Twell to aim at.


Of course – where Twell next aims to make an impact will be down to her and coach Mick Woods, but it is obvious they have a strong partnership and that there is a strong plan laid out for her progression throughout her athletics career.


Speaking recently, Twell underlined her dedication to the sport, and also a hint of future distances to come:


"This is a whole life package. I live this sport, breathe it, dream it. The plan is to run 1500m or 5000m in London, the 5000m in 2016 and then I'd love to step up to the marathon in 2020," she revealed.




Latest Power of 10 news….

It is now that time of year where the Power of 10 seeks to recognise those athletes who have achieved power of 10 targets throughout the track and field season. Please make sure that the contact details you have registered with your home country federation are up to date so we can make contact with you!



The Power of 10 is also for everyone - you don't have to Steph Twell to compare yourself with Paula, or anyone else from the Power of 10 database!


To see the marks set by athletes in the UK visit the Power of 10 website