Young endurance athletes part of London Marathon Events-supported hubs in Birmingham and Leeds
The first athletes to be part of two talent hubs created by British Athletics and supported by London Marathon Events have been named.
The pilot talent hubs at the University of Birmingham and Leeds Beckett University have been created for promising athletes between the ages of 16 and 21, with the objective of providing a pathway from junior talent to world-class performers.
London Marathon Events is providing funding for the hubs’ endurance athletes with the first intake including 27 athletes at Birmingham and 25 in Leeds.
This includes support for a select number of established athletes currently based at the hubs who will act as mentors to the young talent coming through. Among these are Laura Weightman and Alex Bell (Leeds) plus Sarah McDonald and Ben Connor (Birmingham).
Reigning European Junior 800m champion Isabelle Boffey (Birmingham) and Keely Hodgkinson (Leeds), the 2020 British 800m champion, are among the stand-out names on the funding lists.
The athletes, who are on different support packages, benefit from free facility training access, physiotherapy and strength and conditioning programmes, psychological workshops and mentoring for both the coach and athlete pairs.
Luke Gunn, Head of Athletics and Talent Hub Manager at the University of Birmingham, said: "We are delighted to be able add some new and deserving athletes to receive this excellent support at the Birmingham Talent Hub this year.
“Even during such an uncertain past year, we have seen some brilliant performances from athletes on the hub with 17 personal bests across the board, and six of our endurance athletes claiming British Championship medals.
“With the continued support of the partners, we hope to aid the athlete and coach towards senior success as well as grow the athletic benefits in the West Midlands area which has so much promising athletic talent.”
Andi Drake, Talent Hub Manager at Leeds Beckett University hub, said: “Our philosophy is rooted in a passion for developing talented performers towards fulfilling their potential in athletics. The major funding input from London Marathon Events adds significant value to our high performance coaching environment and expert practitioner team.
“We are excited to be working with an impressive group of athletes and their coaches at the Leeds Talent Hub, supporting them to find out how good they can be, in partnership with London Marathon Events, British Athletics, England Athletics and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).”
The hubs have been developed by British Athletics in collaboration with the Home Country Athletics Federations. England Athletics will be supported by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) at the University of Birmingham and Leeds Beckett University hubs.
Spencer Duval, England Athletics National Endurance lead, said: “The partnership with London Marathon Events is an excellent opportunity for endurance athletes to benefit from world-class facilities and opportunities offered at the two talent hubs. London Marathon Events has had a long partnership with endurance and these hubs offer a fantastic opportunity for runners to move along the performance pathway and hopefully represent their country in major events.”
Hugh Brasher, Event Director at London Marathon Events, said: “London Marathon Events is committed to improving endurance running in the UK and to create pathways and opportunities for talented athletes striving to reach the very top. We believe by putting together some of the best young athletes, best coaches and best facilities at these talent hubs, the runners on the programmes will be given the best chance to succeed.”