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Midweek Speak: hannah england

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Hannah England
England - continuing to make headway in 1500m


04 March 2009

As Hannah England (Oxford City) lined up amongst the 1500m field at the recent Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix she was filled with mixed emotions of pressure and idolisation. She was about to embark upon the performance which would make or break her European Indoor Championships dreams while alongside her stood 2007 1500m World Champion Maryam Jamal.

“I felt alot of pressure going into the Birmingham Grand Prix, I sort of realised I was so close. (to the qualifying mark).

And close she was. After making a good start to the 2009 indoor season she soon realised the European Indoors qualifying mark of 4:11.00 was within her grasp.

First place at the Birmingham Games saw her cross the line in 4:15.51 in late January. At the Aviva UK Championships and European trials at Sheffield’s EIS in February she and GB&NI teammate Susan Scott ran a superb race pushing eachother all the way, both in search of the qualifier. England came agonisingly close in second place in 4:12.99. Second by second, she was grinding her times down.

 “I was pleased to run 4:12 at the trials it was obviously disappointing not to win because when we didn’t get the time it would have been nice to have the win. But overall I was just pleased that it felt that easy for me and Susan Scott to both wind it up and we really got going in the last 600m.”

Then finally at the Birmingham Grand Prix, in her University city, she clocked her third fastest time ever over 1500m, 4:09.90 which was her ticket to a senior GB&NI debut in Turin.

 “I just really enjoyed the race, it was quite inspiring to be running with Jamal. It was cool to line up with her in the same race as me. I remember, at one point in the race, looking up and thinking ‘yeah she’s quite far ahead of you, but she’s not that far ahead!’

The biochemistry student, who is in her final year at Birmingham University, attributes alot of her recent success to studying and training in the USA at Florida State University last year alongside 2008 Olympic athlete Barbara Parker (City of Norwich AC).

She organised to take a research year at Florida State to combine the two main focuses in her life: “I always knew I wanted to take a year out to get work experience to make me more employable but then I realised I could do something that would help my athletics as well. It was really fun to go and live in a different country; I was really nice that I could do something that would benefit me academically and athletically.”

She isn’t the only Brit to combine athletics and studies over the pond, Andrew Lemoncello (Fife AC) and Tom Lancashire (Bolton United Harriers & AC) have also studied at the University, both benefitting from the climate and attitude towards sport at American Universities.

“If you’re a student athlete out there it’s like your job. You have to go to training and you have to work hard and perform well. It was quite stressful but at the same time I think it helped me get alot out of myself. I found out from myself just how much I can train and go for it.”

She plans to go back out for a month’s warm weather training before the start of the outdoor season in her quest for a place at the World Championships which will be held in Berlin in August but before that her sights are firmly set on this weekend’s race.

"My target for the indoors was to make the European Team and I've done that. So much can happen in three or four months, it's amazing."

Hannah England will take part in the 1500m qualification round on Friday 5th March. The final will be held on the afternoon of Saturday 6th March.