Wells City Harriers members Elise & Ollie Thorner heard this week that they have been selected to represent TeamGB at the forthcoming European Under 18 Athletics Championships in Gyor, Hungary which runs from 5th July - 8th July 2018. They follow in the footsteps of seven other Harriers who have been selected in the past 20 years for TeamGB and gives a further boost to the standing of the Club which has consistently provided the right levels of coaching and team opportunities for talented athletes to thrive.
Ollie & Elise are twins that first started training with the Harriers at the Club’s Monday evening coached sessions when they were aged 8, and now nine years on through their own dedication, talent and lots of parent, school and Club support they will be off to the European Championships. They were consistent members of our Monday night sessions from the age of 8 through to 13/14 and have then gone on to attend occasional Tuesday night Harrier sessions, whilst supplementing their training volumes and quality with great input from the coaching staff at Millfield School, and of course with the constant support of parents Al and Rosie.
Ollie will compete in the 10 event Decathlon, and Elise will run in the 2000m steeplechase. Elise has raced over the distance three times this year, beating the qualifying standard on each occasion and culminating with a win in 6mins 51 second at the recent National U23 & U20 championships held at Bedford on 16th June. Elise is currently placed 16th on the IAAF world rankings at this event. Her good form at middle distance racing indoors earlier in the season had led to a call up for TeamEngland at an indoor event in March, which was cancelled due to snow meaning that competitors and officials couldn’t travel. TeamEngland, however, called up Elise again this month.
Al, Elise’s dad, reports:
"On Saturday 23rd June Wells City Harrier Elise Thorner became the latest female club member to gain an England vest in a track and field competition when she competed in the Intertrust Games on the island of Guernsey. Elise ran in the 1500m against senior, U23 and U20 competitors from Scotland, England and a combined Channel Islands team. On a gloriously sunny day in Guernsey she finished in 4th place out of 9 athletes on the start line in a time of 4mins 38 secs. Elise will now concentrate on preparations for the European U18 Junior Championships in Gyor, Hungary in July where she gains her first full international Great Britain vest in the girls 2000m steeplechase."
Ollie's journey to selection was not so straightforward, but UK Athletics sponsored him to travel to the Swiss National Combined events championships on 16th & 17th June, only days before the selectors were due to meet. Fortunately he won the event with a new personal best total of 7032 points only 4 points short of the UK all-time record for the event at this age group, which was enough to gain selection for Hungary in July. This score ranks Ollie 10th on the IAAF world rankings at Decathlon.
In the lead up to him achieving this great score in Switzerland, Ollie had to cope with the disappointment of being Disqualified at the England Athletics u20 Championships for a foot fault in the 400m event of the Decathlon, and showed his mettle by carrying on with the Day two events just to see what points he could score. Ollie flew out to Switzerland with a Millfield School coach, whilst dad Al drove the poles on his car roof. On his first vault Ollie managed to snap his pole but wasn’t put off, and used his second pole to go on to equal his outdoor best at the event.
UPDATED: Al has also compiled a blog based around that trip to Switzerland which is well worth reading:
& More Photos by Al, below, from Switzerland
Elise & Ollie will be awarded Hon Life Membership of the Harriers at the Club’s next AGM
For the record (see details in the Club’s potted history here)
Amber Gascoigne was the first Wells City Harrier member to be selected for TeamGB when she competed in the junior Women’s race at the World XC Championships in Morocco in 1998. Her neice, aged 8, has just started training with us on a Monday too!
TeamGB Harriers: Amber Gascoigne ; Andy Hennessy; Ben Tickner; Frank Tickner; Adrian Marriott; Oliver Fox; Luke Prior – all accorded Hon Life Membership
TeamEngland Harriers: Ann Taswell; Laura Parker; Isobel Glaisher; Oliver Fox; Luke Prior
TeamWales Harriers: Matthew Dickinson; Oliver Dickinson
INSPIRED TO COACH WITH THE HARRIERS?
We are always looking to encourage people into athletics coaching so that we can expand our coaching staff and offer more sessions as required. Parents of youngsters keen on athletics, or adults who have an interest in athletics, whether they be currently active in the sport or not, are welcome to come and join us, get qualified and assist senior coaches. Please see the England Athletics Coaching portal, and then contact either Graham Goldsmid (Chairman), or Paul Chadwick (Secretary and Coaching Co-ordinator) or speak to one of the other Harrier coaches. The Harriers pay the training fees for coaches who commit to working with us, and they also receive annual Harrier memberships and badged coaching kit.
Photos below (by Al)Ollie in action for the joint team with Yeovil Olympiads - this season he has contributed to the YOAC senior mens team in the British Athletics League & Elise winning in a new pb for the 800m at the BMC middle distance event at Millfield in May