HERCULES Wimbledon Athletic Club’s top teenage athlete, Ellen Weir, faces a challenging summer trying to combine taking her A-level exams with making the British team for the IAAF World Junior Athletics championships, writes Tom Pollak.

The 18-year-old Wimbledon High School pupil is targeting the steeplechase at the World Junior Championships in Cali, Columbia, North America, in August but faces a tough qualifying challenge to do so. Before then she will be taking her A-levels although the good news is that she has already been awarded a scholarship to Birmingham University where she is due to start in the autumn.

The steeplechase in Cali is over 3,000m and she has yet to compete over that distance where the tough qualifying standard is 10 minutes 10 seconds. The longest steeplechase race she has run so far is over 2,000m at Yeovil earlier this month where she finished fourth in a disappointing 7:22.23 seconds although she competed despite being unwell.

She was thinking about running in the West Suffolk Steeplechase Festival event on May 1, where she won last year, but these plans have been dropped after she was selected to compete for England in the prestigious Cardiff 5km road race on the same day.

She embarks on a challenging summer season after experiencing a highly successful winter of cross country racing during which she helped Britain take the junior women’s bronze team medals in the European cross country championships in Dublin in December. She was the second British runner to finish.

She also did well in the second half of the 2021/2022 cross country season gaining a hat-trick of silver medals in the UK Inter-Counties championships at Loughborough, where she helped Surrey to the team title, Surrey and English championships and taking individual bronze in the South of England championships. She also led Hercules Wimbledon to the team silver medals in the Surrey championships.

Last August she represented Britain in the 5,000m at the European Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, where she was 12th and she was ranked fourth fastest British Under-20 runner for the season over the distance with 16:34.29 clocked at the British Milers’ Club Grand Prix meeting at Watford in June.

Anne Hegvold, her coach, said: “We looked at the option of her going for 5,000m in Cali but decided the qualifying standard was much tougher than that for the steeplechase where I’m pretty sure the standard set by the British selectors is 10:10.”

Hercules Wimbledon supervet Lisa Thomas posted the top age-graded performance in finishing third woman in the Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun on Saturday in 20:55. It was her fastest time in the event since clocking 20:54 last October. She was among 10 Hercules Wimbledon runners. Finlay White was 22nd of the 441 runners in 20:02, eight seconds ahead of clubmate Andrew Davies.

Over-45 veteran Kieran White also posted the top age-graded performance in Wendover Woods where he was second of 169 runners in 18:31. Over-50 veteran Justin Reid was sixth of 1096 runners in 17:27, his fastest time of the year, at Bushy Park. His was also the top male age-graded performance. He was the best of four Hercules Wimbledon runners in the event. Down under, Jonny Earl won in Melbourne in 15:47. Thirty Hercules Wimbledon runners competed in 14 different parkrun events.