Double Olympic and Commonwealth Games champion Dame Kelly Holmes is an inspiration to one young athlete hoping to prove this summer that she also has what it takes to win on an international stage.
Phoebe Gill has been selected to represent Team England in the 800m at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago and can’t wait to emulate Holmes by competing against some of the world’s best age-group athletes.
“It's a tremendous honour to represent my country on an international stage,” said the 16-year-old.
“I am aware of the legacy of previous English athletes who have competed, like Dame Kelly Holmes, and the high standards they have set.”
“I am looking forward to competing against international athletes, representing my country and the overall experience,” added the St Albans AC athlete.
Gill, who is coached by Deborah Steer, has already proven herself at a young age to be a prestigious talent with an 800m PB of 2:03.10 but was still surprised when she heard of her Commonwealth Youth Games selection.
It followed a stunning win in Chelmsford at the 2023 England Athletics U20 and U23 championships in June. The U20 women’s 800m race was all about Gill who just put her head down and went for it. She destroyed the field on her way to 2:03.78 just 0.05 seconds shy of the 19-year-old Championship Best Performance.
“My reaction [on her Commonwealth Youth Games selection] was a mix of shock and excitement, a dream come true,” she said. “This rates as my highest milestone I have reached as an athlete so far.
“My family were extremely proud, understanding the significance of this opportunity in my athletic journey so far.”
So, what are her hopes for this summer’s Youth Games wearing an England vest?
“I would like to PB and ideally medal. I know this will be an amazing experience!”
“Wearing the England vest will mean being part of a team. I am excited to compete alongside talented athletes who share the same passion.”
As much as making sure she has all the essential items of kit and equipment that every athlete needs to take with them when travelling overseas, we asked Phoebe what her one luxury item would be?
“My ear plugs,” she said. “I am a light sleeper!”
Photos by Mark Shearman