Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland teams prepare to compete at the European Junior Championships in Hengelo, Netherlands, on 19-22 July.
Hill was talking to the 57 athletes as they set about building on the successes of GB teams that won six gold, three silver and two medals at the European Under 23s and one gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the World Youth Championships for Under 18s in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Of the GB athletes in Hengelo…
Emma Jackson (City of Stoke AC) heads the women’s 800m rankings
Stephanie Twell, the European Junior Cross Country Champion, and her Aldershot Farnham and District AC training mate Emma Pallant – they are coached by UKA Performance Coach Mick Woods – are fourth and fifth in the 1500m rankings;
Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC), the reigning European Junior 5000m champion now coached by UK Athletics Senior Performance Manager for Endurance Alan Storey, faces five athletes who are faster on paper, much as in Kaunas two years ago;
Eden Francis (Leicester Coritanian) is fifth in the women’s shot standings and full of confidence after setting an English Schools record at the weekend.
Team Leader Rush, expressed satisfaction that the selected team of 57 was the largest junior team he had taken away in five years. He said: “It’s testament to these 57 that they have all come through a rigorous selection process designed to prepare them for competition at the European level.
“Qualifying standards were set to let athletes be competitive with a clear target of making as many finals as possible. It is a good indication of the current quality of 18- and 19-year-olds, many of whom will be aiming to peak at London 2012. We have a lot to live up to because the Under 23s and Under 18s had great championships last week, but I am convinced we have a great blend of experience and newcomers who will deliver great performances and learn from the championships.”
Hill told them: “You are high performers. We have brought a world-class management team to support you. UK Athletics is helping 36 personal coaches to be here with you. That could be the icing on the cake to get you a position higher on the rostrum or another place in the final.
“Success will not be measured entirely by medals and personal bests. For me, UK Athletics Performance Director Dave Collins and everyone else involved with Performance, this is a stepping stone.
“It’s not all about what you get out of this week. It’s equally important what you take into the future. Go out and do ‘a Gary White’!”
The Championships can be viewed live www.hengelo2007.nl
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Richard Warburton, Communications Manager - Performance on +44 (0)7701 099763
Trevor Frecknall, Communications Officer on +44(0)7803 671968
photos Janos Schmidt