Fri, 18 Sept 2020
What a year it’s turning out to be for athlete Izzy Fry.
The season may not be going quite the way anyone imagined, but the 20-year-old former Park House School pupil is still managing to make waves on the big stage.
She reached number one in the British women’s under-20s cross country rankings back in March and clocked a new personal best of 16:02 in the Senior Women’s 5,000m at the British Championships in Manchester earlier this month.
“Turning up at the British Championships and having an empty stadium was very strange,” she said. “My race was quite late so it was pitch black, with the floodlights on and really silent. It was quite eerie.
“But just being able to race with those girls and to get a PB was great.”
Looking at her recent successes – fourth at that championships, fourth in the 5,000m European Junior Championships last year and gold in the European Cross Country Championships with her GB teammates in Lisbon in November – it is hard to believe she only started focusing on the longer distance 12 months ago.
She had wanted to get into the British Universities championships and she knew her “moonshot was 5k”.
“So I did a time trial and ran 20 seconds off of the European qualifying standard at that distance,” she said. “At the next race in Loughborough, which was the European trials, I finished first and got an automatic spot. It was nice to be rewarded for that switch to 5k.”
That moment was pivotal for Izzy.
“I didn’t have much self-belief before,” she said. “All I have ever dreamed of is a GB vest. The fact that I managed to get the standard was nice, to be able to walk away from the race knowing I had done enough was great.
“It was a switch in my mindset. I knew I could do it; there were no ifs and buts.”
And now, with this season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, she has her sights set on the European Under-23 track championships next year.
“I think that will definitely be a big aim for me,” she adds. “The qualifying standard is 16:05, so I have got that already and that’s a confidence boost.
“They have cancelled a lot of races this season so everything is a bit uncertain. I’m just going to jump at the option to get a race in when I can.”
Another focus for Izzy in the coming year will be her dissertation, as she begins her third year of a sports science degree at St Mary’s University in Twickenham.
But despite living most of the year in the capital, Izzy has never forgotten where it all started – at wet and windy training sessions with her two brothers on Fifth Road playing fields.
“I started running at primary school and I really liked it,” she said. “I joined Newbury Athletics Club, but I didn’t take it seriously until I was about 15-years-old.
“My mum has been my taxi since I started. She used to come to every training session and every single race.
“She’s a huge, huge support for me. She’s always picked me up if I have run badly and puts it all into perspective.
“She has got me through the tough times.”
Having taken a week off after the British Championships, Izzy is now preparing to return to training.
She trains with a group of endurance athletes under coach Mick Woods at St Mary’s, but says she will always be proud to run for Newbury AC.
“Newbury is where it all started and I will never forget what Andy [Tuttle – her coach at Newbury AC] did for me,” she adds. “I will always be first claim for Newbury AC.”