An exclusive chat with the Commonwealth Youth Games 800m champion who is rewriting the record books
Phoebe Gill has had the summer of her life. She hit the athletics headlines in July by destroying the British under-17 1500m record. That performance was followed up with her first international appearance at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago, where she dominated the 800m and clocked the fastest British under-17 time in 46 years (2:02.30) on her way to gold.
That was the first time she had dipped below 2:03.00, but she went faster still upon her return home with 2:01.50 in Watford – at the same venue where she had lowered that 1500m mark.
All the signs would suggest that this is an athlete who should perhaps start getting used to the attention.
What was the Commonwealth Youth Games experience like? Was it what you expected?
I was very much anticipating my race, having been in Trinidad for a week and a half [before the heats] due to the 800m being one of the later events. I have to admit I was worried about performing in my debut international race, given that I was inexperienced compared to other athletes in the field and wanted to do well after all my preparation.
Luckily, I had [Team England coach] Tom Craggs as an excellent motivator who calmed me and supported me all the way to the start line, meaning I was excited and ready.
Running in that temperature was a bit of a shock to the system and, honestly, the 800m heats concerned me a bit as I was quite surprised at the fast pace to begin with but luckily I found a spot at the front and comfortably qualified.
I was extremely nervous on the starting line for the final as everything I had done this season was working up to this ultimate race. This race [ended up] being one of my favourites and I was unbelievably happy to have run a PB and won.
Did you think you had that time in you?
All throughout this season I have been trying to break the 2.03 barrier which I’ve been stuck on from last year so I was ecstatic. Coming into the race I believed my body was in form with confidence from my 1500m PB and my coach’s motivation. Still, seeing that time when I crossed the line was a dream come true as I was sceptical it wouldn’t come until next year.
What was it like to meet athletes from all over the world and to be part of Team England?
Meeting the variety of athletes was one of the highlights [of the Games]. I was very nervous…