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Aqua-Pura boost for Women’s steeplechase

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Lizzy Hall
Lizzy Hall leads the field at Watford in June.
Aqua-Pura is to sponsor a campaign by UK Athletics to improve standards in the Women’s steeplechase throughout the UK.

 

It follows a summer in which Lizzie Hall (Herts Phoenix) broke the UK Senior Women’s 3000m steeplechase record; Hatti Dean (Hallamshire Harriers Sheffield) qualified for the European Championships in Gothenburg; Emily Pidgeon (Gloucester AC) and Ruth Senior (City of Norwich AC) achieved World Junior Championships qualifying standards and placed 8th and 12th in World Junior rankings; and four UK women broke ‘the 10-minute barrier’.

 

Action is needed because there are still not enough UK female athletes participating in the event and UK is falling behind in terms of world standards. World rankings show that 75 women ran sub-10 minutes this summer compared to 54 in 2005 and 47 in 2004.

 

Aqua-Pura’s decision to support UKA’s steeplechase working group is a further extension of their renowned ‘Women in Athletics’ campaign that has encouraged many females to try – and take up – a variety of athletics events.

 

The steeplechase working group was set up in May by the endurance event management group, which felt that some further event specific development work for female athletes was required.

 

Spencer Barden, UKA Senior Co-ordinator for Endurance said: “Exposure to the event through coaching workshops and training days linked to an effective competition pathway will assist in introducing and directing female athletes into the event.

 

“Funding from Aqua-Pura will enable the working group with the UK Event Coach for steeplechase and regions to direct women’s only activity across the UK. Working directly with the England Regions and Celtic Nations, through regional delivery, will maximise exposure of the event to female athletes and their coaches.”

 

They will set about organising winter workshops with resounding support from Dean, whose rise to No.1 in the UK steeplechase rankings has surprised her as well as many other observers this summer.

 

Having made little impact at flat distances ranging from 1500m to 10,000m in past summers, she decided to try the steeplechase after a super winter in which she won the UK Inter-Counties Cross Country and UK Cross Challenge titles … and won the 3000m steeplechase at the Norwich Union European Trials and AAA Championships to earn a place in the Norwich Union GB Team at the European Championships in Gothenburg.

 

She said: “I’m aiming for London 2012 now. Definitely! I would never have said that until the steeplechase gave me loads of confidence. I can see myself being a track runner now as well as a cross country runner.”

 

Visit the UK Athletics website for news of Aqua-Pura women’s steeplechase activities as the winter unfolds.