England Athletics: Promising Sheffield athlete selected for prestigious development programme

A talented teenage runner is one step close to a podium place after being selected for a prestigious development programme with England Athletics.

Dronfield-based Emma Shipley, aged 16, who represents Hallamshire Harriers in 800m, has been awarded a place on the governing body’s Youth Talent Programme (YTP) which helps the best young athletes in their respective events fulfil their potential and gain a Diploma in Sporting Excellence.

“It will do her confidence the world of good,” said Emma’s coach Charlene Thomas, a former international runner with Great Britain who won 1500m gold at the 2011 European championships.

"I’m super pleased for her because female athletes often do struggle with being confident and showing they are confident. You have to be if you want to make it at the top level.”

Promising middle-distance runner Emma Shipley representing Hallamshire Harriers.

Emma’s dad Paul added: “We’re quite excited about the YTP, it’s a well-trodden path.”

The promising youngster will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of 19-year-old Keely Hodgkinson, who won 800m silver in Tokyo, when she steps up to competing at Under 20 level next year.

“I don’t see why she can’t progress all the way,” Charlene said.

"She’s doing really well. She certainly runs quicker than what I ever did at her age."

Emma, an A-level student at Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School, previously excelled at swimming and posted times that saw her ranked among the fastest in the country for breaststroke.

She also represented Sheffield Triathlon Club before concentrating solely on running.

"It’s in her DNA,” said Paul, a member of Dronfield Running Club.

Nandy Kihuyu, also 16, who has competed in both 200m and 300m, is another Hallamshire Harriers athlete tipped as one to watch by Charlene, who trains both girls in Leeds.

Charlene added: “She’s had it very, very easy so far because she’s so talented.

"Often, because it comes so naturally to them, they find that transition to senior athletics when they have to put in the work really challenging.”

So what does it take to reach the top, in the view of someone who has been there?

”Absolute dedication to the programme and to the training,” said Charlene.

"Emma’s certainly got to continue to enjoy and love the sport but it gets a bit more serious stepping up to Under 20 level.

"It's a tough, tough sport. It’s brutal.”