Connect with us


Georgia Bell: GB runner’s journey from quitting athletics to Paris 2024 Olympic ‘dream’

None of this was conceivable in 2021. In truth, the Olympics only felt realistic six months ago when she went close to the qualifying time during the indoor season.

Repeated injuries and subsequent stagnation contributed toward Bell falling out of love with the sport after a move to the United States.

There, a focus on high mileage inflicted stress fracture upon stress fracture, each setback pushing Bell closer to quitting until eventually, in 2017, she did.

“I wasn’t enjoying it and, to be harsh on myself, I wasn’t very good at it anymore,” says Bell.

“Having time off from the sport was the best thing for me. I was mentally and physically burnt out.

“But over time I realised I actually love running. I looked forward to going for a run during lockdown and I started seeing improvements quite quickly.”

Despite five years away, it did not take Bell long to rediscover her latent talent.

Juggling solo training with work, with Parkrun providing a measure of her unexpected rapid progress, she decided to get in touch with former coach Trevor Painter.

Painter, alongside wife and former world 800m medallist Jenny Meadows, has guided British star Keely Hodgkinson to the brink of global success, and would often refer to Bell as ‘the one that got away’.

“When I rang him he said he knew there was potential but I don’t think either of us expected the improvement we have seen so quickly, or thought the Olympics would be a possibility, but here we are,” Bell says.

‘Here’ is a matter of days after Bell out-kicked Olympic silver medallist Muir to win her first British outdoor title and seal her place on Team GB, an achievement she describes as “a dream come true”.

Grateful to be on a summer sabbatical from her job to pursue her Olympic ambitions, Bell, who lives in London but travels fortnightly to Manchester to train with Painter’s group – including Hodgkinson – has capitalised on the opportunity.

Achieving her first major senior medal with European silver, despite an infected spike wound sustained in the heats which left her struggling to walk, has given Bell confidence that “I can get it done even when things are going wrong” as she prepares for the biggest moment of her somewhat unconventional career.

Her immediate target is an attempt at a first sub-four minute 1500m clocking at the Paris Diamond League, which would provide additional belief before her return to the French capital later this month.

What lies in store there, and beyond as she continues to uncover her potential, remains an exciting unknown – although Bell says a post-Games return to her job remains the plan, for now at least.

“As long as you get to the final, there’s always the chance for something special to happen,” Bell says on her Olympic ambitions.

“It won’t be easy to go through the rounds – everyone says the heats at the Olympics are the worst races of your life – but in the major finals I have been in so far, they have just felt like big opportunities.”

She adds, on her longer-term plans: “The plan is to go back [to work] but I’m having the best time of my life at the moment.

“Obviously I don’t know what is going to happen this summer. I am really enjoying it, and I think we will just have to stay tuned.”

Source link

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *