Tag Archives: British Athletics

St Mary’s on track for more success as Worlds head to London

The clock is ticking and the race is on to qualify for the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London.

Next summer, elite competitors from all over world will descend on the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, reviving memories of the 2012 Games.

But can the magic of that hugely successful event – and the medal haul they generated for Team GB – be recreated five years on?

With London at its multicultural and vibrant best for the Olympics and Paralympics, the achievements and record-breaking moments of 2012 still feel fresh in the mind.

As does the joyous spectacle and bouncing energy, the pride and joy that filled the Olympic Stadium – compared to the rows of empty seats and lack of atmosphere at the Rio 2016 Games.

From the athletes to the fervent crowds and army of ever-helpful ‘Games Makers’, London showed how the Olympics should be, and for the world to see.

Great show

At St Mary’s University’s Endurance Performance and Coaching Centre (EPACC) in south-west London, staff are confident that the 2017 IAAF and IPC World Athletics Championships can match will have a similar feel-good factor.

“Seeing the likes of Farah and Bolt training here just gives them so much inspiration”

“It was fantastic, I have never seen a crowd like London,” said Rowan Axe, an assistant at EPACC. “I don’t think you will ever beat what we had, the home support was just fantastic.

 “London in particular, it’s so multicultural, they just get behind everyone, whether they be a British or American or whatever, the crowd is behind them.

“And for athletes, competing in front of their home crowd provides inspiration. Next summer is going to be brilliant – London always put on a great show.”

St. Mary’s has played an important role in the achievements of British athletics, with the likes of Mo Farah and Jo Pavey among its success stories in recent years.


“For distance it’s right up there,” said Axe. “I think we produced around 40% of the endurance squad selected to represent Team GB for the Rio Olympics.

“That’s a testimony to the Centre, and looking ahead to the Worlds in 2017, I think there will be a similar number of EPACC-supported athletes competing for Britain.

“Andy Vernon in 5k and 10k, you might have Adele Tracey for the 800m, the list can go on. I think the Centre is helping to produce the great endurance athletes that we need. The continued support from the London Marathon is crucial to enhancing those athletes to get to that next level.”

As well as helping to hone British talent, EPACC’s reputation for sporting excellence has also seen it play host to some of the world’s greatest athletes.

Like Farah, Jamaica’s nine-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt  has occasionally trained at the EPACC in preparation for major events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


“It’s a huge benefit to both British athletics and endurance running if it inspires student athletes to try and get to that level. If they can see those calibre of athletes  it inspires them to push themselves,” Axe said.

“A lot of these students are still very young and have a long way to go. But seeing the likes of Farah and Bolt training here just gives them so much inspiration.

“We need to get the profile of athletics out there a bit more, but hopefully it will continue to grow, and we will get more people watching it”

“It’s great that Farah is a huge ambassador for our university. A lot of these students look up to him, and it definitely gives them a lot of fuel to achieve some success.”

According to Axe, the EPACC has played a big role in the Somali-born runner’s feats, which this summer included defending his London 2012 5,000m and 10,000m titles in Rio.

“Farah used the Centre to his advantage, he progressed year on year, looking to take that extra step, and that is ultimately what to took him to the Nike project in America.

“But without the support that he had from the Centre, he might not be the athlete he is today. It definitely helped his career.”

Right direction

However, even Farah’s success and with the 2017 Worlds on the horizon, Axe believes British endurance running still needs plenty of nurturing and support.

“In the UK, you go to some of our track meets around the country and there will be very little media coverage, there won’t be any big-name sponsors, it lacks a bit of that environment.

“I think they we need to get the profile of athletics out there a bit more, but hopefully it will continue to grow, and we will get more people watching it.

 “It’s definitely going in the right direction, it is getting there.”

Medals for Team GB at next summer’s eagerly-awaited athletics extravaganza in Stratford can only help that process.

Campbell sets sights on Tokyo 2020

Meet Taylor Campbell.

He is a Team GB hammer thrower with a huge future ahead of him. In 2015, Campbell broke the British junior record ten times on eight different occasions.

Originally from Windsor, he is currently combining his sporting goals through athletics with studying for a degree at Loughborough University.

Rio 2016 has come too soon for the 19 year old who is currently ranked eighth in the world in the under-23 age group. However, he is more than on course to be at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

I spoke to him about how he got into his event, his sporting journey so far, what his training routine involves, and his main targets for the future.


Tell me about your athletics career to date: how did it start, at what age, and what made you get into hammer throwing?

I started athletics at the age of nine. My brother is a sprinter so I’ve always gone down to the track with him. But in terms of doing my event, I started that when I was 12. I tried a lot of the other events and I wasn’t enjoying them, but when I picked up the hammer I enjoyed it so I’ve been doing it ever since.

How old were you when you became part of the GB squad?

I was 17 I was part of the GB youth squad that went to World Youth Championships in Ukraine.

How often do you train, and do you find it physically demanding?

It’s massively demanding! I train six days a week and they’re all double sessions. So I’ll do 12 sessions in total – everything’s physically demanding. If you’re not in the gym you’re out throwing. It’s really tough.

What motivates you when the training becomes difficult?

For me,an Olympic gold. You’ve got to have your eyes set on that – everyone wants to win a medal. That’s the thing that motivates me and drives me through the hard sessions.

Where do you train?

I’m based up in Loughborough I train at the high performance centre which is the national governing bodies’ athletics training facility.

What time do you wake up and go to sleep?

It depends if I have lectures: it could 8.30am. If I have training I get up around 10am and get down to training for 11am, and I’m usually in bed by 10.30pm.

Do you stick to a specific diet plan?

There’s not so much a written plan. But for me I make sure I get the carbs in for the morning for energy and then for the rest of the day I eat a lot of protein. I go through about 12 eggs a day. It’s vital whilst training.

Do you have to be hard on yourself socially in terms of going out?

Yeah, I’ve got to really limit myself. Saturdays are the only time I go out really because Sundays is my only day off. I’ve got to be really strict with myself, especially around my mates, to keep myself in the right shape.

What criteria must you hit for you to qualify for competitions?

In athletics you have age groups at the moment I just moved up from the under-20 age group. Last year for me to go to the European Junior Championships, I had to throw 71.5m and I threw 78m so I was selected.  Also, there is funding standards – you have to meet the criteria to get money, so for me to get the funding I’m on now I either had to get a medal at the European Juniors or a British record and I managed to get a British record.

What are your chances for Rio?

For me it is one Olympic cycle early. For my event you have to be mature physically and technically, so I’ve just got to be patient – we all peak at different ages. I wasn’t strong at a young age so I’ve just got to be patient and wait it out. 2020 is where I am looking at, definitely.

Who are the main rival countries that you compete against?

It is a very diverse event a lot of countries have good throwers. But the main competition probably comes from Hungary and Argentina.

How many hammer throwers are in a GB Olympic squad?

They take three people to the Olympics. It all comes down to who can throw the qualifying standard. It is tough, and British Athletics set the standards high. They don’t want to just take people to competitions, they want you to medal.

Are you superstitious?

I used to be like that, pack my bag a certain way, wear a specific pair of socks but not anymore. I’ve taken all of that out and just gone with my ability on the day really.

Finally, what has been your favourite moment as an athlete – something that you’ll never forget?

Probably making the World Junior finals in 2014. I was the youngest in the competition and I went in ranked 17th in the World and  I came out ranked ninth, so yeah going up eight places was  a great achievement for me.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @TaylorLC1996 and Instagram @taylorc96