Edwards ready for Maccabiah test
Ellie Edwards hopes to show real star qualities when she takes to the world stage at the 19th Maccabiah Games in Israel next month.
The Trafford Athletics Club runner is on the road to recovery following a series of injuries over the past 18 months and caught the eye at the recent Greater Manchester Schools Championship.
Aiming to hit 26.0 seconds in the 200m to qualify for the English Schools finals, she ran a season’s best 26.6 in the heats and, just an hour later, she achieved the time she wanted to cement her place at the Greater Manchester Team finals in early July.
Indeed Edwards, 16, appears to be finding her best form at just the right time, and is confident she will show her rivals a clean pair of heels at the Hadar Yosef Stadium in Ramat Gan.
"I'm getting very excited about the Games," she said ahead of her first Maccabiah. "I've met up with the track and field team twice now, and they seem a really friendly bunch of boys who have made me very welcome, even though I am the only girl on the team.
"My preparations are going well and it will be a great honour to represent my country for the first time."
With the majority of her rivals from warmer climes, Edwards hopes that her recent experiences of representing her school - Manchester High – in netball and hockey in the Far East will stand her in good stead.
"I have never competed in an athletics event abroad before,” she said. “I think the heat will affect me, but unfortunately we can't prepare for that in this country.
"I recently ran in a race on a rare hot day here and I need to make sure I have plenty to drink to keep myself hydrated."
Ellie’s athletics prowess was identified in Year Three, when she outclassed the field at a school cross country competition. Following her success, she lined up against 13 other schools and made history by becoming the first pupil from King David to win a gold medal.
Upon joining Bury Athletics Club, the coaches realised that Ellie had real talent and she powered to victories at the Manchester Primary Schools Cross Country and won the County title at 75m in the same year.
Gold is on the agenda again for Ellie in Israel next month, but she is taking nothing for granted. "On a personal level, just to win a medal would be great, but to get on the podium would be fantastic for me."
She regards being the ninth fastest sprinter in England over 200m for her age and representing Greater Manchester at the English Schools Championship as her biggest achievements in the sport so far.
Ahead of her second visit to Israel, she plans to compete in several events, including the 100m, 200 – which she describes as her "strongest event" - and the 400m. She could also line up in the long jump and there is possibility of a place in the Rest of the World Relay team, as the only track and field athlete from GB.
Athletics runs in the family, with Ellie’s grandfather, Oskar, a former competitor for Austria.
Ellie says she is as focused on her studies as she is on her athletics. "I'm actually quite organised in terms of balancing the two," she said. "I think the sport gives me discipline. I have a routine that works for me."
Asked about her pre-race ritual, she said: “Just before the start, I think this is my one chance and I try to get in the zone and try to be focused. I always kiss my magen david around my neck and always have it on before a race."
So what is it like being one of the top junior athletes in the country? "I don't actually feel that I’ve missed out on very much," said Ellie, "but I do have to discipline my time if I know I have school work, parties and training.
"I always try and get a good night’s sleep in before a race and may forego the odd sleepover, but not too much."
A tough fitness regime sees Ellie train up to four times a week, with a combination of running, plyometrics and conditioning.
"They are usually an hour and a half sessions," she said. "I eat a well-balanced diet, but allow myself treats as I know I will burn them off at training. I try to eat carbohydrates the night before a race and take bananas with for after."
In terms of sporting heroes, Ellie describes Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis as her favourite role models.
"I was thrilled to be able to see both of them at the Olympics last summer in London," she said. "It was amazing to see them in action and gave me a real buzz for the sport and the Maccabiah for this summer.
"My parents have always encouraged and supported me in every way and I would like to think I have my dad's competitive streak and, thankfully, my mum’s athletic build."