As we celebrate the success of Emma Raducanu in tennis this weekend, in the field of athletics, Andover girl Abi Woolaston is a name to watch.
The 19-year old is ‘going for gold’ and hoping set a British marathon record next month. This follows her ‘surprise’ success at the Vitality Big Half marathon in London at the end of last month.
Talking Andover Radio Abi she said, “I got into athletics quite late, only about five years ago and many people who achieve success have been running since a much earlier age.
“To be honest, my result at the half marathon was a bit of a surprise, I beat my own record.”
The former John Hanson student was 12th female overall and her time of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 47 seconds put her first in the GB under 20’s section; 14th of all time.
Abi’s success in August has put her in the mindset to compete on the global stage. She will be running in the full London Marathon on Sunday 3rd October and believes see can focus on attaining further records.
Calm and confident, Abi was not hesitant to thank her former club, “I owe a lot to Andover Athletics Club”, she says. “I started running by myself before I joined the club; I joined aged 15 and from then on it just took off.
“I only race with them now as I have an external coach, but still go up every week and help out.
Giving gracious acknowledgment to the Club and to Holly Mills – ranked 22nd in the world for Women’s Heptathlon – Abi says, “Holly is doing amazingly well.
“Although it’s only a small club, a lot of good athletes have come from there, so it shows the high level of coaches we have up and the people who are behind the club, too.”
Abi who studied Maths, English and Psychology at A-level added, “I started my athletics path the wrong way round, I started with long distance running, which is the opposite to most. Most people start with shorter races and work up to a marathon.”
With an obvious talent, commitment to and natural skill for long distance running, Abi ran a 62 mile ‘ultramarathon’ when she was just 16.
With her sights on breaking the British under 20s women’s record at the London Marathon, she says she wouldn’t rule out going for greater glory. World Athletics Championships, the Commonwealth Games and even the Olympics are within her reach.
Abi believes a sub-3 hour result for the 26.2 mile race is achievable and hopes to beat the London Marathon’s GB under 20s record of 2 hours, 50 minutes and 9 seconds.
Abi is working with Andover Patio Centre owner Simon Potter to create a sponsorship package to help her pay for training and entry fees. She says, “I’d love to be able to attract the support of local people and businesses and look forward to working with Love Andover, too”.
With help from her coach, Commonwealth game gold medallist and Olympic silver medallist Liz McColgan, we believe we are going to see the name Abi Woolaston at the top of the rankings at increasing numbers of world events.