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.

800m talent Keely Hodgkinson. Photo: European Athletics via Getty Images

Backing young talent

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.”

Young talent like Emile Cairess are amongst those selected. Credit: Athletics NI

Youth and experience within coaching too

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.

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.”

The support helps keep athletes like Phil Sesemann on their feet year round. Photo: Stephen Lee

Athletes at the University of Birmingham Talent Hub

  • Charlotte Alexander (3000m)
  • Will Battershill (Steeplechase)
  • Isabelle Boffey (800m)
  • Francesca Brint (1500m)
  • Ben Connor (10000m/Marathon)
  • Jonathan Davies (5000m)
  • Oliver Dustin (800m)
  • James Gormley (1500m/5000m)
  • Maisie Grice (Steeplechase)
  • Kristian Imroth (Steeplechase)
  • Thomas Keen (1500m)
  • Sarah McDonald (1500m)
  • Saskia Millard (5000m)
  • Dougie Musson (Marathon)
  • Lily Partridge (Marathon)
  • Mark Pearce (Steeplechase)
  • Amelia Quirk (5000m)
  • Amelia Samuels (3000m)
  • Zak Seddon (Steeplechase)
  • Sabrina Sinha (1500m)
  • Mari Smith (800m)
  • Daniel Studley (Marathon)
  • Annie Testar (800m)
  • Ben Thomas (Steeplechase)
  • Emily Thompson (1500m)
  • Michael Ward (5000m/10000m)
  • Emily Williams (1500m)

Athletes at Leeds Beckett University Talent Hub

  • Alexandra Bell (800m)
  • Lizzie Bird (Steeplechase)
  • Eleanor Bolton (5000m)
  • Alex Botterill (800m)
  • Emile Cairess (10000m)
  • Sam Charlton (3000m)
  • Tiarnan Crorken (800m)
  • Eleanor Davis (Marathon)
  • Joshua Dickinson (5000m)
  • Keely Hodgkinson (800m)
  • Millie Howard (1500m)
  • Ethan Hussey (1500m)
  • Daniel Joyce (800m)
  • Olivia Mason (1500m)
  • David Mullarkey (1500m)
  • Almaz Nerurkar (1500m)
  • Bronwen Owen (5000m)
  • Steph Pennycook (10000m)
  • India Pentland (1500m)
  • Beth Potter (10000m)
  • Daniel Preston (1500m)
  • Mena Scratchard (1500m)
  • Phil Sesemann (10000m)
  • Linton Taylor (3000m)
  • Laura Weightman (5000m)

Note: Athletes in bold text are ones that will be using the facilities and/or have mentor roles.