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WATCH: 17-year-old British woman surges to record-setting 800m time

"I'm in shock, because I was late for the race," said 17-year-old Phoebe Gill after running 1:57.86

Phoebe Gill Photo by: Irish Milers/Pixieset

On Saturday at the Belfast Irish Milers Meet in Northern Ireland, 17-year-old middle-distance runner Phoebe Gill of St Albans, U.K., achieved something only one U18 woman in the world has done before her. Gill ran an astonishing 800-metre time of 1:57.86 seconds, breaking the European U18 record.

Her time broke the European U18 record of 1:59.65 set by East Germany’s Marion Geissler-Hübner 45 years ago and only stands behind China’s Wang Yuan U18 best of 1:57.18, set in 1993. To put this result in perspective, world champion Mary Moraa of Kenya won the 800m at Doha Diamond League last week with a time of 1:57.91. 

Gill, who is the Commonwealth Youth Games champion over the 800m discipline, split a blazing 56 seconds for the opening 400 metres and held on to stop the clock well under the two-minute mark. The time moved her to joint second place in this year’s world 800m rankings, with only Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma (1:57.73) having run faster.

“I’m in shock, because I was late for the race because I got the timings mixed up,” said Gill in an interview with the BBC. “I got out there a bit faster than the 58 [seconds] I was supposed to run on the first lap. I just kept pushing, and in the end, I didn’t even clock that I’d done it. I thought I was dreaming.”

Only British 800m Olympic silver medallist Keely Hodgkinson has run faster as a U20 athlete.

Gill, who just turned 17 a month ago, will have a busy summer ahead of her with her record-setting time being selection-eligible for the 2024 European Championships, Paris Olympic Games and World U20 Championships in Peru.

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