8th May 2009

Heroes Update


14 June 2008

In conjunction with the UKA Heroes Project supported by Original Source, UKA continues to follow the lives of six young athletes in their bid to rise to the top of their discipline.  

A unique insight into the start of their summer season follows.

Niall Flannery (Gateshead Harriers & AC) continues to develop through the season with an impressive run in the 400m hurdles at the Bedford International and a new personal best of 53.16 at the Northern U20 Championships in Manchester. Niall is now placed in the top ten on the U20 UKA Power of Ten Rankings.

His improving form has been enhanced by a recent trip to Malta for some international competition and warm weather training. Niall reflects on the experience fondly…..

“The Malta training exercise was fantastic, plenty of sunshine, a good standard of competition and a healthy team spirit made it an invaluable experience. There were some impressive performances from the other athletes but this did not faze me at all. I had to compete against a Frenchman who was 34 years old and had been to the Sydney Olympics, but I managed a good performance and came second.

Abdirisak Ahmed (Rotherham Harriers & AC) has really come into his own this summer, showing improved confidence with support from his coach and mentor Rob Creasey. Gaining valuable experience competing at high quality events such as the Loughborough International has clearly paid off as Abdirisak smashed both his 1500m and 5000m personal best’s in the past month with respective 3:56:90 and 14:37:81 performances.

Abdirisak competed early on in the season in his second ever 5000m race at the Loughborough International.

“Before the weekend I really didn’t want to race because I wasn’t feeling confident. I knew the whole point of me being at Loughborough was to race athletes who were better than me so I could use their standards to improve my own.

“The night before the race my coach told me to stay focused and relaxed. He told me that  whatever happened I had to stick with my  time.If the other athletes  got off fast then not to go with them

“I finished fifth with a new personal best of 14:45. I was surprised but my coach wasn’t, he said I could go faster! I felt like I had taken another big step in my athletics learning curve.”

Laura Weightman (Morpeth Harriers)

Laura has tested her versatility during the early months of the outdoor season competing in a range of different disciplines. Personal best’s of 2:08:20 in the 800m at the North East Counties Championships in Manchester and 4:22:20 for the 1500m at the BMC Grand Prix 2 have showcased her current form and placed her fourth in those events on the U20 UK Athletics Power of Ten Rankings.

Despite only just moving up into the U20 age group, Laura has been involved in athletics for a number of years as a young athlete with great potential and pays perfect testament to the UKA Heroes Project supported by Original Source.

Laura’s rise to the top of her discipline has not been easy however, as like many athletes, Laura suffers with asthma but rather than let it hold her back, she tackled the problem head on.

“Asthma is a problem for many athletes and we all cope with it in different ways. There are good times and there are bad times.

“I have had asthma since I was 11 years old but it wasn’t until the age of 15 that it started to interfere with my training. In the winter it became more of a problem, the cold, wet and windy weather made training very difficult.

“It would have been very easy to give up when I was struggling, but I knew  that I had to keep going and its been worth it. Now I am able to control and slow down my breathing and finish my training sessions in record times.”