Teenager Loren Bleaken scoops Running Bath accolade after outstanding 2012
For Loren Bleaken, 2012 was quite simply an outstanding year.
The 17-year-old Team Bath AC runner from Marshfield, who is a member of Adrian Clover’s outstanding group of young athletes, stamped her mark not just on the track both indoors and out but also cross-country, covering distances from 400m to 5k.
That is why Bleaken, despite fierce opposition, was overwhelmingly chosen as Running Bath’s Athlete of the Year before being personally congratulated by joint owners and brothers Malcolm and Neil Turner at the city’s leading athletics retailer earlier this week.
“Loren is a very talented athlete who has shown tremendous dedication and worked extremely hard for her success,” said Malcolm.
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“While the quality of the athletes on the shortlist was exceptional we felt that Loren stood out and fully deserves the award. We hope 2013 is another good year for her and wish her all the best.”
Bleaken won the England Indoor Under-20 women’s 800m title in a time of 2mins 06.75secs and also completed a memorable quartet of victories over the same distance at the Sainsbury’s UK School Games – held in the Olympic Stadium – plus the British, English and South West Schools’ Championships.
During the winter, Bleaken won the South West Club cross-country title plus the Wiltshire and South West Schools’ championship before finishing 18th in the English Schools’.
“2012 went perfectly and was probably the best year I have had so far, especially in the 800m,” said Bleaken.
“I won five major titles and improved my personal best to 2mins 04secs but I still wasn’t expecting to win the Running Bath competition, so it is brilliant news.”
Like most athletes, Bleaken is already looking to the 2013 summer season and hoping to continue her progress.
“The big target this summer is the European Junior Championships in Italy and making the Great Britain team in the 800m,” she added.
“That would be my first major international championships and it would be great to qualify but I know I am going to have to up my game and reach a higher standard.
“The qualifying time is 2mins 06secs, which I have done already. I ran around 2:06 consistently last year and
this year I’ll be looking to be consistent around 2:04 and improve my PB again.”
Bleaken has also been selected for UK Athletics’ Futures programme, which has given her access to enhanced medical support and specialist coaching programmes.
“That has been a big help to me and my coach Adrian Clover as we are increasing my training to try to improve my performances,” said Bleaken. “The last year has been great but now I have to push on and do even better.”
Bleaken was in fantastic form at the Welsh Indoor Championships last weekend, finishing almost eight seconds clear of the senior women’s field in a time of 2:11.06.
There was also a gold medal for Team Bath colleague Hannah Grubb in the senior women’s pole vault as she cleared 3.45m.
Amelia Hempleman-Adams, aged 17, was runner-up in the senior high jump after clearing 1.70m – just 2cm short of her lifetime best.
The Chronicle’s athletics coverage is sponsored by Running Bath, Bath’s specialist running shop. Catering for runners of all abilities, from complete beginners to experienced athletes, it offers a wide range of running footwear, apparel and accessories.
Visit Running Bath at 18 High Street, Bath, call 01225 462555 or log on to www.runningbath.co.uk.