British distance runner is striving to reach her potential at the University of Birmingham
Amelia Quirk is benefiting from the best of both worlds as she thrives within the high performance environment at the University of Birmingham while under the remote guidance of experienced coach Mick Woods.
Having worked with Woods since 2017, Quirk – fifth in the 2021 European Indoor Championships 3000m – admits she has had to improve her communication skills to get the most out of a partnership that has led to GB vests on the track and in cross country. “I’m typically terrible at replying to messages,” she laughs.
On the phone, Woods gathers information, imparts knowledge and delivers sessions over daily calls. On campus, former international steeplechaser Luke Gunn, head of athletics at University of Birmingham, oversees many of her sessions in person.
“I do a decent amount of running on my own, but quite often, especially at the weekend, I join in with the uni group,” says Quirk. “It’s a really big group and pretty similar to what I have at home in the fact that it’s mixed gender and ability.
“We get Birmingham Uni students but also local people based in the area. That’s one of the things I really like about Birmingham – everyone just shows up and joins in and I think that’s really helpful.”
The 23-year-old MRes Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences student showed fine form at the start of the winter. She clocked the fastest leg at the ERRA National Road Relays in early October and finished first Brit at the Cardiff Cross Challenge.
Injury followed, leading her to miss the Euro Cross trials in Liverpool, but she is due to return to racing this weekend (Jan 8) representing England in the Juan Muguerza Cross-Country Race in Elgoibar, Spain.
Her naturally shy demeanour certainly doesn’t lend itself to trash talk or excessive self-confidence. In fact, while others may revel in the atmosphere of a boisterous cross country event, Quirk – in the past at least – admits that she’s had a tendency to panic. “I don’t like crowds or loud noises, so I find it really stressful,” she says.
A benefit of the University’s “Elite Dual Career Athlete Pathway”, and one of the reasons she chose to study in Birmingham, is access to an outstanding programme of practical support which enables her to get the best out of herself physically and mentally.
“I’ve really bought into…