Team England's Phoebe Gill has captured the attention of the sporting world with an astonishing breakthrough over 800 metres. 

Mere weeks after her 17th birthday, Gill smashed a 45-year-old European junior record, registering an incredible time of 1:57.86 at the Belfast Irish Millers Meet. 

The run made her the second-fastest woman of her age of all time over the distance. 

But who is Gill and how has she become England's latest history-making middle-distance runner? 

Multi-sport background

Hailing from St Albans, Gill's first sporting love was actually swimming.

She remembers: "I was always a swimmer when I was younger - that was my main sport and I think that really helped my strength when I eventually got into athletics."

Gill was soon succeeding in the muck and nettles of cross-country running. Her first win came in primary school, while still in Year 3,  with running soon taking over as her main focus. 

Great coaching

When it comes to support networks in the sport, Gill points straight to coach Deborah Steer. 

She describes Steer, who has overseen her development at St Albans Athletics Club, as 'motivating' and 'not pushy', seeking first to nurture her love for the sport.

"The best piece of advice I've ever received was from Deborah," says Gill. "She told me that I am a young athlete and that I have got my entire journey in front of me.

"It means I am allowed to struggle and I am allowed to have highs and lows because, at the end of the day, every single competition I do is just a training race for the bigger events when I am older.

"So it does not matter if I struggle now at my age. She has played a massive role in developing me as an athlete, I owe all my gratitude and thanks to her."

Commonwealth Youth Games springboard 

Gill really started turning heads with her performances in 2023, becoming England under-20 and English Schools inter girls 800m champion and clocking some impressive times.

That led her to the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago - giving her an invaluable first experience of international racing.

In the women's 800m final, Gill led from the gun and surged for home with 350 metres to go, clocking a stunning time of 2:02.30, a personal best, Youth Games record and the fastest time run by a U17 British athlete since 1977.

“It was such an amazing race,” said Gill. “I was in a phenomenal field of athletes and we all pushed each other. It’s my first international race and I hope they’re all like it was here!” 

Experiencing the major Games environment certainly seems to have brought the best out of Gill. 

She started the outdoor season in sublime style, clocking 4:05.87 for 1500 metres and then putting the athletics world on notice with her performance in Northern Ireland.

Idolising Dina Asher-Smith

In rising from the Commonwealth Youth Games to success on the biggest stage, Gill hopes to follow in the footsteps of her idol Diner Asher-Smith.

Asher-Smith took gold in the 200m with a time of 24.30 at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games on the Isle of Man before going on to win gold and bronze medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast.

"I think that following in the footsteps of people like Dina is unbelievable," she added.

"It makes you realise that if you are competing in the same competitions as they have done previously, then it is a good indicator that your journey in running is on a good path.

"I have always looked up to Dina because she has been through a lot on her sporting journey.

"So to watch her go through each race and her struggles helps me realise that it is never going to be easy but that you just have to push through that.

"At the end of the day, I love running and so it does not matter if I do badly at one event."