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Hayley Yelling Announces Retirement

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Hayley Yelling Liverpool XC 2008




16 December 2008




Former European Cross Country Champion Hayley Yelling (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) has announced her retirement after finishing 19th in Sunday’s Euro Cross in Brussels, helping the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland to team silver. The event has been good to 34 year old Yelling, who won the individual title in 2004 in Heringsdorf, Germany. Sunday was her 12th European Cross Country Championships and the 10th occasion she has helped the team mount the medal podium, including gold in Edinburgh in 2003.

A cross country specialist, she also represented GB & NI at every World Cross Country Championships since 2000, including winning team bronze in Brussels in 2004.  She also gained international recognition on the track, representing GB & NI over 5000m at the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Edmonton, competing in the 10,000m at the 2006 European Championships and twice she wore the England vest at the Commonwealth Games, in the 10,000m in 2002 and 2006.

Her main regret was not making an Olympic team, despite going very close to the 10,000m qualifying time on several occasions. She said: “I missed Sydney by 1.27 seconds, Athens by 0.14 seconds and Beijing by about 4 seconds. I can’t go on until 2012, I’ll be too old by then.

“The highlight has to be winning the European Cross Country in 2004. It was such a shock. I knew I was running okay domestically, but you never really know how everyone else is doing. You are just in that runner’s bubble. It was Jo Pavey that helped me win that one, she came up on my shoulder near the finish and I thought ‘I’m not going to let you beat me - not on cross country’. It spurred me on to win it.”

Pavey had to settle for bronze on that particular occasion. Explaining her decision to quit, Yelling said: “After not making the Olympics in the summer, I’d made my mind up to go then. But I talked it over with my coach (Conrad Milton) and decided to go one last time for the Europeans. But to be honest, my heart has not been in training as much and when you start to feel that way, it is time to go.

“I turn 35 in January and I could go on and on, but I don’t want to be just making teams. I want to be going to championships and doing well. That’s what made Sunday so disappointing. But cross country has been good to me, there is always such a friendly atmosphere in the team.I’ll never forget the 2006 World Cross in Kenya. The crowds were incredible, there must have been 100,000 people there. Lots of them were hanging out of the trees to watch.”

A mathematics teacher at Sir William Borlase Secondary School in Marlow, she intends to keep in contact with the sport via coaching. Three years ago, she undertook an intensive UK Athletics three day coaching course at St Marys College for experienced and recently retired athletes.

“I hope to do a bit of work at my club (Windsor, Slough, Eton & Hounslow) working alongside Conrad and then maybe on my own when I get a bit more experienced.” She said. “I will run just to keep fit now. I’d also like to go skiing. You don’t really get the chance to do these things that when you are an athlete.”

Yelling is the sister-in-law of Olympic marathon runner Liz Yelling, who is married to Hayley’s brother and international duathlete Martin.