National champ eyes GB selection

Elise Lovell is setting her sights on representing Great Britain at senior level after winning a national title.

Elise Lovell (centre) on the top step of the podium after winning the senior womens heptathlon at the England Athletics Combined Events Championships
Elise Lovell (centre) on the top step of the podium after winning the senior womens heptathlon at the England Athletics Combined Events Championships

The Hastings Athletic Club talent struck gold in the senior women’s heptathlon at the England Athletics Combined Events Championships.

She said: “The ultimate goal is the Olympics in potentially five years’ time, but my main goal is to represent Great Britain at senior level.”

That goal could even be achieved fairly soon because Lovell will shortly find out if she has been selected for two international meetings next month.

She is hoping to feature in the Home Countries Internationals in Hexham - an event in which Lovell represented England at junior level five years ago - and the Europa Cup for Great Britain, which she says would be a ‘massive achievement’.

Lovell is currently ranked fourth in the UK despite considerable competition in a discipline also containing the likes of Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, European indoor champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and 2014 world junior champion Morgan Lake.

The 23-year-old admitted that although she felt a medal was a possibility at the England Athletics Combined Events Championships, she certainly didn’t expect to take the top step on the podium.

“Going up there I thought a medal might be on, but I never thought the gold was on,” she continued. “It was only at the end of the first day that I thought ‘this could be on’, but I knew it was going to take a huge effort to do it.

“It was unbelievable. You’ve been working towards it for 10 years and you finally realise it. My mum, dad and partner were there as well, and you turn to them and realise everything has happened.”

Hastings-based Lovell ended day one at Bedford International Stadium in third place, but moved up to second after starting day two with a season’s best long jump of 5.70m.

A 32.44m javelin throw then took her into the lead and she clinched the title with a personal best time of 2:18.60 in the concluding 800m. Lovell finished with a huge score of 5,197 points, smashing her previous best of 4,978.

“All winter we’ve said the target is 5,000 points,” added Lovell, who has also qualified for the British Championships in the 100m hurdles. “I thought it was going to be on, but I didn’t expect to break it by that much.”

Lovell trains two days a week in Horsham with coach Steve King and her training group, as well as doing a lot of work with Hastings AC at William Parker. The club as a whole is on something of a high at the moment having won its first two Southern Athletics League matches.

Although now a leading athlete, Lovell actually started her sporting life at Summerfields Gymnastics Club. It was only when she was around 13 and doing athletics in PE lessons at Helenswood School that her teacher suggested she ought to head along to the athletics track.

Lovell joined Hastings AC and started out in the cross-country group before switching to the sprint group. After being encouraged to give multi-events a try, Lovell won a surprise medal in the Sussex under-15 pentathlon in her first year.

She wished to thank her coach and Hastings AC for their part in nurturing her talent.

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