US-based distance runner is keen to make an impact in a GB vest and spoke to AW to tell us more
Due to living in America, Amy-Eloise Neale might have gone unnoticed in Britain except to the most eagle-eyed athletics fanatics.
But having represented Britain in the under-20 race at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in March and having already obtained the qualifying time for European Junior Championships in the 3000m steeplechase, the 17-year-old is finding herself being thrust into the limelight in her homeland.
Until this year, the Seattle-based teenager had rarely raced outside America. However, Amy-Eloise was far from an unknown talent. In 2011, on the strength of her early season performances in America, she was selected to run for Britain in the 2000m steeplechase at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Lille. Then, aged 15, she showed her potential as she smashed her PB to finish 11th and go to third on the UK all-time under-17 rankings with 6:37.27.
This winter, Amy-Eloise travelled to the Inter-Counties Cross Country Championships, where she finished fourth and subsequently earned selection for the World Cross in Bydgoszcz, where she finished third GB scorer in 21st.
As she improves as an athlete, Amy-Eloise expects to make the long trip across the Atlantic more often, and this started with an appearance at the England Athletics Under-20 Championships on June 16 where she came second, clocking 10:37.30 in the 3000m steeplechase.
She also ran a 3000m steeplechase PB of 10:14.07 at the Portland Track Classic the week before to go to fifth on the under-20 all-time list in the UK.
Like many athletes Stateside, Amy-Eloise has had a busy early season of racing including PBs of 2:08.22 (800m), 4:26.52 (1500m) and 9:46.65 (3000m) on the flat, but she hopes this will stand her in good stead.
“I was straight into our high school track meets as soon as I returned from World Cross, so it was a rapid transition and I had a really heavy racing schedule. I did lose my nerve going over the water barrier for a while, as I had a bad crash in my first race this season, but I did really well the second time I ran the steeple, and I’m excited to do it again,” she explains.
With her family having moved to Seattle for her dad’s job in 1997, Amy-Eloise has lived in America most of her life and she feels the location has worked well for her development as an athlete, although she does find the travelling to Britain for races to be difficult.
Until now, she has trained with her high school team and coach Frank Dauncey. “It is a good facility and we have a great track and weight room, but I struggle to find the facilities for my steeplechase training,” she says. “On the days I need to practice water jumps I have to find another stadium.”
She trains seven days a week, generally including one larger training session each day and up to three or four light morning runs, plus strength and conditioning work.
Having just finished high school, Amy-Eloise is starting at the University of Washington this autumn and says: “The University of Washington has a great athletics programme. The system is different here, so I don’t have to decide on my degree quite yet, but I am considering molecular biology or bioengineering.”
But until she begins university, Amy-Eloise’s priority lies with the track. She feels her GB experiences to date have inspired her and contributed to her rise as an athlete, with winning a team medal at the World Cross being a highlight.
“It was unforgettable standing on the podium at World Cross, and I was so proud of our team bronze,” she reveals. “I love running because it gives me an opportunity to think things through and release any tension or worries. If I’m having a bad day, a good training session usually improves my mood and I leave practice so much happier,” she adds.
“The steeplechase is even more of a challenge. I really enjoy the technique work, and I love how the barriers make it easy to break up a race into different parts.”
You can find further performance stats on Amy-Eloise on Power of 10 here.
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