Lilianne’s story – from beginner to pole vault and hurdles champion and National Championships medalist
Lilianne started training in athletics in 2020, joining Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow Athletic Club (WSEH) as a first year U15. She had previously been a gymnast from the age of 6, reaching regional and national level, but in 2019 she suffered a number of serious injuries, which in addition to the long-term training restrictions due to Covid-19 in 2020, forced her to make the difficult decision to step away from gymnastics and try something different.
Training under coach Alan Hewson at Bucks Speed Demons, Lilianne took her time over her first year to learn and try out different events which included cross country, 200m, 300m, long jump and 75m hurdles. It has been Alan who has helped to develop her running and hurdles.
In November 2021, with an interest in Pole Vault, WSEH introduced her to coach Nick Phipps and under his guidance, fell in love with it.
Since January 2022, Lilianne’s athletics has gone from strength to strength, developing her skills across 3 main disciplines:
- She was part of her school cross country team, racing at county and regional level, qualifying and racing at the English Schools National Finals in March 2022.
- She took part in her first ever indoor season in the 60m hurdles, which resulted in qualifying for the National Championships in Sheffield.
- In February she started her pole vault journey.
In Pole Vault, she competed in a number of open meetings and after getting her first height of 2.05m, by May and her 5th competition, Lilianne had secured the England Schools Athletics Association (ESAA) National Championships qualification height of 2.70m, winning the Bucks and Oxon County Championships with a new personal best (PB) of 2.90m and earning herself a spot on the Buckinghamshire County team for the National Championships. She followed up this win with winning the Buckinghamshire Schools Championships in June.
In July at the ESAA National Championships, Lilianne achieved 3rd place in the U15 Pole Vault, followed this up with 3rd place at the South of England U13/15/17 Championships in August and two weeks later secured 3rd at the England Athletics Under 15 & Under 17 National Championships!
Whilst competing for Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow Athletic Club (WSEH) in five league matches over the summer, Lilianne won all five and extended her PB to 3.10m to reach a UK ranking of 3!
Lilianne also continued with the 75m hurdles during the summer season, competing at a number of league fixtures for WSEH, (2nd in one and 1st in two), winning the Bucks and Oxon County Championships in May and improving her PB by over a second to of 12.32 seconds, then winning the Buckinghamshire Schools Championships in June with a new PB of 12.2. She finished the season by qualifying for the South of England U13/15/17 Championships in August.
With her talent for Pole Vault and Hurdles, quality coaching and vitally her interest in her progress and desire to keep learning, it has been an incredible 2022 for Lilianne. From trying Pole Vault for the first time, to English Schools National Championships and England Athletics National Championships!
See here for all of Lilianne’s results.
Starting athletics and taking her time to find her events was absolutely the right decision for Lilianne and she will continue with her pole vault journey along with enjoying racing 60m and 75m hurdles. She is also going to take up 300m hurdles when she moves up to the U17 age group next season. Her aim is to keep working hard but most importantly to enjoy her training and have fun!!
Written September 2022