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Izzy takes the first steps on the road to Rome after Newbury AC star runs two personal bests and meets European qualifying standard

Newbury Athletic Club’s Izzy Fry is targetting qualification for June’s European Championships after running two personal bests in five days.

The 23-year-old surprised even herself when setting new 3,000m and 5,000m p.bs in Boston despite not having raced on track for a year following a serious foot injury.

Fry sustained a high grade tear in her plantar fascia – the part of the foot that connects the heel bone to the toes – in March last year and missed around six months.

Fry set a new 3,000m personal best at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Picture by Dan Vernon
Fry set a new 3,000m personal best at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Picture by Dan Vernon

However she returned in style in December when she finished inside the top 10 and helped Great Britain win the European Cross Country Championship in Brussels.

After Christmas, Fry flew to South Africa to prepare for the indoor season and ran in track spikes for the first time since before her injury but admitted she still had a few reservations about whether her cross country success would translate to the new surface.

She had no need to worry though as she ran a new 3,000m personal best of 8:52.15 at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix before producing an even more impressive result to finish fifth in the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitational 5,000m in a blistering time of 15:07.76.

Fry had been hoping for somewhere in the region of 15:15 but smashed her initial expectations and is now dreaming of a spot on Team GB after running the qualifying time ahead of this summer’s European Championships in Rome.

“Although I outperformed what I thought I could do in cross country I just didn’t know how things were going to look on the track,” she said.

“I was really hoping that, come summertime, I’d be able to show what I could really do back at full fitness.

“It’s not often you get to surprise yourself in this sport but over this indoor season I really have, and that’s a really nice feeling.

“I really wanted to run the European qualifying time so I had 15:15 in my mind but I felt like that was going to be a massive ask.

“To go and run 15:07, I just didn’t expect that. It’s a really big confidence booster for me.

“I want to see how much more I can achieve and it’s made me move the goalposts a little bit in terms of my expectations.

“I know I’ll need to show form but it’s given me belief that the European Championships are a realistic goal now.”

Fry missed the entire summer season while she was painstakingly working her way back to fitness and so, despite a seriously impressive end to a shortened cross country campaign, admitted she was unsure how she’d fare Stateside in her first competitive track action for 12 months.

She said: “Fitness is fitness and, when you’re fit, I feel like you can perform on any surface.

“Just because I hadn’t raced at all on track for a year I didn’t really know what to expect.

“It’s like a different sport. It’s a lot more tactical and, especially with the indoor track being only 200m long, everything’s a lot more intense. It’s really hard mentally.

“I thought it might take me a couple of races to get back into the swing of things but the fact I managed to whack two p.bs out has made all of the trials and tribulations from last year feel worthwhile.”

Fry, who swapped Team New Balance for a new setup at the state-of-the-art Loughborough University in 2023, has always been a big confidence runner and admits she found it difficult to deal with the isolating effect of injury.

However her recent results have given her the confidence to believe she belongs in elite sport as she prepares for a potentially memorable campaign.

“I no longer feel like the injured runner who people feel sorry for and who can’t prove how good she can be,” she said.

“The last couple of months have been full of firsts. I hadn’t really had those speedier sessions until I was out in South Africa but that’s what gave me the confidence to put my trust in the foot.

“I think I can draw a line under the injury now and that’s really made me think about what comes next.”

Just because Fry has already clocked the qualification time for the European Championships doesn’t necessarily guarantee her selection.

She’ll have to vie for selection with a number of other talented British athletes but her recent form means she’s already taken the first few steps on the road to Rome and will head into the spring full of confidence.

She said: “The main thing on my mind is the European Championships in Rome.

“I’ve never made a senior international team before but to get the qualification standard so early on is a big boost.

“Now I’ve got to continue to prove my form going into the selection process at the end of May.

“I know that there are a few other people to have run the standard but it’s nice to have put myself in the mix.

“Now I’ve run 15:07 the next thing to think about is going sub-15 – it’s crazy to think about, it’s something I never thought I’d even consider achieving.

“To be thinking about these things is pretty cool and it would just be amazing if I could make the European Championships.”

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