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England to A


s a child Hannah England was a keen ballet dancer and up until the age of 16 danced around 5 times a week.


Hannah was also a fast middle-distance runner. Indeed she would beat most of the boys in school races. Hannah realised she didn’t have enough time for both dancing and running and had to choose one discipline. The choice was fairly easy as Hannah loved the competitiveness of running and hung up her ballet shoes. At sports day at school the other girls


weren’t keen to run over 200m, so Hannah would be happy to step up and would run the 800m and 1500m. “Everyone at the school would always wait to watch me race,” says Hannah. And of course she’d always win. Hannah achieved her first big success at just 13 when she won the UK Athletics Reebok Cross Country Challenge.


MEETING A DAME Hannah met Dame Kelly Holmes in 2004 before the Athens Olympics. She was invited to join ‘On Camp with Kelly’ – a mentoring and education initiative supported by Aviva. The Camp (featured in the January issue of RF) helps young athletes to become the best they can. “I was completely in awe of Kelly and I was so flattered to be asked to join her mentoring programme. It was the first time I had met a famous female athlete up close. Being part of her Camp is very motivational indeed. Kelly showed me I needed to make changes to beat the other girls and be more accountable for my running.” Hannah went off to university to study biochemistry and chose Birmingham as


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they had a good athletics team. Hannah says: “It was great to meet so many people like me - that understood the training, the competition and just loved dedicating most of their time to running. I loved being part of a team and realised when I went home for Christmas that I had not done a single run on my own!”


SUNNY STATES Florida beckoned for Hannah’s year out as her boyfriend (now fiancé) was studying out there and Florida State University had the best men’s athletic team in the USA and the women’s was not far behind. Whilst in Florida, Hannah competed for the university’s track team at the NCAA Track and Field Championships, winning the mile indoors and 1500m outdoors. Hannah says: “It was the highest quality race I had ever been in. I was totally overwhelmed.” Hannah returned to England but narrowly missed out on selection to compete in the 2008 Olympics.


In 2009 Hannah set a 1500m personal best of 4:05.87 at the Fanny Blankers- Koen Games in Hengelo, finishing seventh and beating the Olympic champion Nancy Lagat. In the same year she also set an 800m personal best of 1:59.94 at the European Team Championships and managed fourth place in both 800 and 1500 metres events, helping the Great Britain team to a third place finish. Hannah went on to compete in many events but her biggest achievement so far is taking Silver at the 2011 IAAF World Athletics in South Korea. She had a fantastic final 100 metres and came from 7th place at


Hannah England is a British athlete who is hoping for a medal at the


London Olympics. Natalie Lucas reports


the final bend to take the Silver medal in a time of 4:05.68. “I was very proud of myself,” says Hannah, “I managed to put together a really good 5 days. I conserved a lot of energy and stayed calm. I used to struggle a lot with my nerves but Kelly helped with that.” Hannah has an extensive training


regime but still manages to be a young lady. She loves to window shop, read and watch films, her favourite being Dodgeball. She is currently reading Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, which she thoroughly recommends. Plus she is very close to her family and friends, although her mum never watches her race as it makes her too nervous. What does the future hold for this easy going but dedicated and focussed athlete? “I intend to compete for at least another 8 years. I feel very lucky that my job is actually my hobby.”


LONDON OLYMPICS Currently, Hannah has her sights firmly set on the London Olympics 2012. She’ll find out around 3 weeks before the games if she’s in. “You have to run a time to qualify and the top two in the trials automatically go in and then they pick a third. If you get a cold or injury around this time it’s all over for another 4 years. However, I’d be very shocked if I didn’t qualify for the team.” Running Free Magazine wish you the best of luck Hannah. Go and bring back a medal for Great Britain! ‘On Camp with Kelly’, supported by


Aviva since 2004, is Dame Kelly Holmes’ mentoring and education initiative for talented young middle distance athletes. For more info visit: www.oncampwithkelly.co.uk


WIN!


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