24th October 2018
FUTURES IN FOCUS: ISABELLE BOFFEY
Isabelle Boffey (coach: Douglas Stone; Club: Enfield & Haringey) is hoping she can use her international and domestic experiences from 2018 to be stronger next season.
An 800m semi-finalist at the IAAF World U20 Championships in Tampere in July, the 18-year-old successfully defended her indoor U20 800m title, as well as making her debut at the Muller British Athletics Championships, both indoors and outdoors.
This year has been a steep learning curve for the 18-year-old and she hopes that she can use what she has learnt in a jam-packed 2018 to make her mark once again in 2019.
Reflecting on the year, she said: “I’m very happy with the fact I got a PB because it shows that I’m getting faster every year, but I would have liked to have done better towards the end of the season.
“At the start of the year I was really positive but I’ve used the end of the season as a big learning curve and hopefully I can push on from it.
“What happened at World Juniors wasn’t what I wanted, but it’s about recovering from that and putting in better performances at the end of, and throughout the season next year. Hopefully some big successful wins will come next season.
“It’s my last year of being a junior athlete so it’d be nice to get into the team that heads to Sweden [for the European U20 Championships] as well as breaking the 2:04.00 barrier because I’ve been so close in the last two seasons,” she added.
In 2016, Boffey announced herself on the international stage as she became the first ever European U18 Championship 800m gold medallist in Tbilisi Georgia. Achieving a first medal for the British team on the European stage was a special moment for her.
“It was my first British vest and I didn’t expect to get that at all. I just went into it and approached all of the rounds thinking it was my last shot and it ended up going really well and then I ended up winning in the final. Everything has gone up from there.
“I was really surprised. I’d had the nationals the weekend before and I honestly didn’t realise that winning there would give me a better shot of being selected for the team. I got the phone call and I was in a state of shock.
“It’s such a big deal especially at a young age because you’re representing your country on the big stage and it’s a huge opportunity to race against athletes from other countries at such a young age, unless you go to internationals yourself.
“It never really sinks in because in this sport, you don’t know what’s going to happen. You might have a great season or an average season but each year if I get a call to say I’ve been selected for a Great Britain team, it’s just as exciting.”
This year saw Boffey compete at the British Championships for the first time in her career and was the youngest athlete in the field at just 18-years-old.
She was in a heat alongside 800m World Indoor bronze medallist Shelayna Oskan-Clarke (Jon Bigg; WSEH), whom she faced at the British Indoor Championships in February, and Adelle Tracey, 800m silver medallist at the Athletics World Cup.
Boffey finished fourth in her heat and did not progress to the final but felt that being able to compete in such a tough environment against some of the best 800m runners in Britain will serve her well in the long run.
“I thought it was such a good competition,” she assessed. “I went in and I wasn’t ranked very highly at all but it was such a good experience before the World Juniors and it gave me a taste of what a bigger Championship would be like.
“It was actually quite intimidating going up against someone like Shelayna but the more I do it the more it’ll become like she’s just another person to race against and that’s the motivation that I can use to get my times up and hopefully beat those sorts of athletes.
“At this point it’s just about learning from their experiences and I’m happy to be in that kind of a race because I can pick up things from them that will take me round.”
Boffey is a part of the British Athletics Futures Academy Programme and has been utilising the workshops and support on offer to aid her development throughout the season.
The programme supports those who have been highlighted as having the potential to win medals at future major championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games. She feels being a part of the programme has been a benefit to her overall.
“To know that British Athletics have faith in me and that they believe I can do well in the future means a lot,” she said. “The support that you get from it is amazing and the workshops with athletes that have either been on the programme or are now at the elite level is really beneficial.
“The support that they offer with regards to nutrition and all the testing that gets done on the days has been really beneficial for me and my coach.
“The older you get, a lot of athletes drop out because they don’t realise how much you have to put in, but when you start to do international competitions, you realise how important things like that are.
“You need to look at your nutrition and the psychology of things to see what’s going to make you into a better athlete and get you onto the bigger stages.”