Woolven set for senior debut at the Games

Bucks Free Press: Pippa Woolven Pippa Woolven

PIPPA Woolven will run for England at the Commonwealth Games this month – but she had to win a serious argument with her American coach to get there.

The Wycombe Phoenix Harrier has been selected to run in the 3,000m in Glasgow on July 30.

But she admits her coach at the University of Florida, where she is on an athletics scholarship, didn’t want her to break away from her strict training schedule to take part in a championships that has very little kudos in America.

Woolven said: “They’re not part of the Commonwealth so no one in America really knows what it is.

“It’s difficult for them to get excited about it and it was quite controversial with my coach that I was going to chose to compete.

“She is incredibly focussed and disciplined. She has her plans and expects you to completely follow them while you’re training under her.

“They prepare you to be fit for a certain time period. After that they expect you to take your rest and then start their summer training programme in order to get fit enough to return in August for the cross-country season.

“I’m disrupting that training programme by effectively running through my rest period.

“I will still get a rest period, it’s just going to be a bit delayed so it’s not such a big deal from my perspective, but they’re paying me to run for them and they weren’t too keen on the idea.”

It’s understandable the University want to look after the 20-year-old Woolven, who ran a string of personal bests as she helped the athletics team to a trophy treble in her first season and has just been offered another year.

She said: “When I initially went to America I was only intending to stay for a year.

“I had every hope I might qualify for the Commonwealth Games and if I did I was 100 per cent going to compete. I was never going to go back on that.

“When they offered me a second year I made it clear that was my intention. Though they didn’t like it, there was not much they could do about it.

“I completely understand where they’re coming from, but at the same time I think because they’re American they don’t appreciate what a big deal this is for someone like me.

“To me it is second only to the Olympics. Literally, it’s a childhood dream and there wasn’t any question in my mind I wouldn’t do it.

“My coach was pretty upset. It was a tough time and quite hard to deal with on my own. But I had to fight my corner because this in not something I’d ever turn down.

“Anyway, she tends to forgive and forget so once I’d made the decision and there was no question about it we’ve got over it and we’re fine.”

Woolven will join up with the England squad in Manchester on July 20 before they go up to Glasgow on July 22.

The Games run from July 23 to August 3.

Woolven’s race is Wednesday, July 30.

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