Last weekend, Issy Boffey (Luke Gunn, Enfield and Haringey/Birmingham Uni) broke two-minutes in the 800m, the ultimate barrier for any female athlete competing over two laps of the track. We caught up with Issy to get her thoughts on running sub-2 for the very first time:
"Running sub-2 minutes over the 800m was the big goal for me this season. I was so close (0.18 away) so definitely felt like I could run it this year. Running sub-2 opens a lot of doors for an 800m runner. It’s a defining time and most of the qualifying times for major championships are 1.59 so I am delighted to finally join the sub-2 minute club."
Whilst Issy’s race lasted 1 minute and 59 seconds, there are weeks, months and years of hard work that went into that performance. We spoke to Issy about her journey as an athlete: how she first got involved in the sport, what she considers her biggest achievements in the sport so far and what goals she has for the future.
How and why did you start your athletics journey?
I started my athletics journey in primary school. I was a super active kid who wanted to do everything, and athletics was such a good opportunity to try so many new things.
It became quite clear that running was my best event, and I went on to join my local athletics club when I was 10. From there, I trained at the club and competed at YDLs, county, school and local open competitions.
When I was 16, I got my first GB vest for the European Youth Championships.
What is your proudest moment in the sport so far?
My proudest moment in the sport would probably be winning the U20 European 800m title in 2019. This was my first year with Luke as my coach and I ran a massive personal best to win the title. I was honestly just so happy that all the hard work had paid off and I was so proud of myself. Joining university, moving away from home, changing coaches and completely revamping my training had been a huge jump forwards for me and it was the best way to round off the season.
Birmingham is obviously one of the country’s Talent Hubs and has a really strong endurance group. What is it like to be a part of that environment?
The Talent Hub has been immensely important for my development as an athlete throughout my university years. It was launched in my second year at the University, and it’s been really amazing to watch it develop and grow to become what it is today.
Deciding to go to the University of Birmingham to train with Luke as my coach was one of the best decisions I have made. I went from training by myself to with a huge group of athletes. It’s honestly the best feeling to be in an environment with so many other like-minded people.
The training itself is great, with a mix of group and individual work on the track and in the gym. There’s so many of us, both alumni and current students, and Luke, Dean and the whole coaching team do such a good job at making sure everyone is doing the right thing at the right time to be competing at their best. Combining all that with the resources that the Talent Hub team brings makes it the perfect environment to be based in and I’m super lucky to be gaining training partners all the time.
How did the England Athletics Talent Pathway programme benefit you on your journey as an athlete?
The best way that the Talent Pathway has benefitted me is through having access to resources such as S&C, physio and medical care which has been so important in my training. It has also allowed me to develop as an athlete, through having a mentor (Hannah England) who has helped to guide me through my life outside of running as well as my life on the track.
What goals do you have for the future?
I’m so excited to be a part of the Great British team going to the World Championships in Budapest later this summer. It’s been a big goal of mine to be at a major global senior champs so now I’m focussed on running well there and getting some experience ahead of a busy year next year including a potential Olympic Games for me.
Photos by Mark Shearman