PLATINUM AWARD SCHOLARS
Meet Anya Hassan our latest Platinum Award winner.
Anya has been involved in Judo for many years, and won a Sport Newcastle Rising Star award in 2018. She has won English, British, and Irish junior championships in the last 3 years and recently competed at the European junior championships and came 3rd, the only member of the Great Britain team to win a medal. This result gained Anya selection for the G. B. Olympic Training camp and selection for the forthcoming World Championships in Portugal.
Anya started at Northumbria University in September having previously studied at Churchill Community College. She is currently ranked around 30th in the world and is hoping the platinum award funding will help her to move up the rankings in the next 12 months and help her gain a place on the senior G.B. squad.
We look forward to following Anya's progress over the next 3 years.
Current Platinum Award Scholars
Sport Scholarship Programme
Scholar: Joy Eze (sprinter)
September 2023 update: Retaining her 100m & 200m titles at the North Eastern championships was a good start to Joy's outdoor season. This qualified her for the Loughborough International event, where she achieved the European qualifying standard. Despite a hamstring 'niggle' Joy set a p.b. at 200m (23.61) and a 2nd place in the English u20 Championship. Returning to the track after an enforced rest to rehabilitate Joy secured 9th place in the UK Seniors Championship in a time of 11.54s.
Next stop for Joy was Jerusalem to compete in the European u20 Championships. Despite being a pre-race outsider, Joy showed her race experience to win her semi-final in a new p.b. of 11.37s and the final in 11.39s. Joy's victory was the first by a British athlete in 12 years and her time was among the best ever recorded in the 50 years of the event. After a day's rest Joy returned to the track as part of the 4 x 100m relay team that just missed out on gold to the team from Germany. Joy now has 4 European medals to her name, one of only a handful of European athletes who share that honour.
The 2023 season has been Joy's best ever. She won 21 out of 25 races that she contested at u20 and senior level and set personal best times in every distance she ran.
This 'Rising Star' has certainly risen and is shining brightly!
May 2023 update: Joy started the year by winning the Northern u20 championships in Sheffield. This was good practice for the demanding race schedule planned for February. First up was the u20 English 60m indoor where comfortable victories in the heat and semi-final were topped off with a new pb of 7.31s to retain the title that Joy won last year. A week later Joy was in Birmingham indoor arena in front of the BBC cameras for the UK senior championships. Again, Joy won her heat and semi-final to get through to the final against the best women in the UK. Joy equalled her new pb in the final, coming 4th and missing out on a medal by 0.01s. Despite being disappointed it did confirm to Joy that she can now compete at this level.
Just 1 week later, Joy was back competing at Sheffield in the British University Championships, competing for Newcastle University. Yet again Joy won her heat and semi-final and this time went a stage further to win the championship in a new pb of 7.29s. It was the second fastest time ever recorded for this event, the first time that a 1st year student had won it and the first time a female athlete from Newcastle University had won a championship.
At the end of the indoor season Joy had the proud record of winning 10 out of 11 races, being ranked 1st u20 female in Europe at 60m, 12th in the world for u20 women and 6th in the senior rankings. This augers well for the outdoor season when Joy will be competing at the u20 European's in August and against the senior women whenever the opportunity arises. Her first race of the season will be at the N.E. Championships on May 13/14th in Middlesbrough.
January 2023 update: Joy started a Pharmacy degree course at Newcastle University in September and was keen to establish a routine to balance studying and training. Fortunately her coaching network and training partners at Gateshead Harriers remained unchanged and has in fact been enriched by expert support from the University strength and conditioning coaches.
Joy's training has intensified this year as she is now targeting senior championships and team selection. She has once again been selected for the British Athletics Futures programme and attended the training and testing camp at Loughborough in December. Her speed and power data proved encouraging and has helped inform her future training programme.
Joy's first competition of the year is the Northern indoor championships, followed by 3 major championships in February, when Joy will defend her u20 60m title, compete at the British Universities Championships and aim to improve on last year's 6th place when she lines up at the UK Senior championships in Birmingham.
September 2022 update: Joy has had a frantic time competing all over the world this summer, as well as sitting her A-levels. Racing for G.B. in Germany, Joy won the 100m in a season's best time of 11.54s which was below the qualifying time for the World u20 Championships. In July at the u20 English Championships in Bedford Joy achieved the qualifying time again in coming 2nd which confirmed her selection for the World Championships in Colombia.
In Joy's first race in Colombia she came up against the Jamaican u20 world champion and achieved her 2nd best time ever to come 2nd and qualify for the semi-finals. Joy again ran well but missed out of qualifying for the final by 0.03s. However, Joy consoled herself in the fact she ended up as the 9th fastest u20 athlete in the world (at the age of 18).
The following day Joy was part of the G.B. 4 x 100m relay team which won their heat setting a new British u20 record, beating the long standing record of Dina Asher Smith's team. In the final Joy was involved in a mix up on the changeover, the baton was dropped and their chance of a medal went with it. However, Joy said that the team at least had the consolation of the new British record to look back on, along with a fantastic opportunity to compete at such a prestigious event.
Joy's A-level results were good enough to get her a place at Newcastle University to study Pharmacy, which means she will remain a Gateshead Harrier for the foreseeable future. Joy as ever, remains positive and said, "I will learn more from my defeats (than my wins)" and "I am looking forward to the next phase of my dual career."
May 2022 update: Joy's 2022 season didn't start well as she picked up a nasty hamstring injury. With the help of U.K. Athletics and her coach she was able to get back training just in time to compete at the English u20 indoor 60m championships. Despite being tentative in the heats and semi-final all the re-hab work paid off as she won in a new p.b. of 7.36 s. This resulted in Joy being invited to compete at the senior indoor championships where she won through to the finals. Despite a poor start, Joy came through to take 6th place - a fabulous result for a 17 year old up against some of the best female sprinters in England. Joy has a busy summer ahead trying to balance her A-level exams with competing outdoors nationally - and perhaps internationally.
January 2022 update: The relaxation of Covid restrictions has allowed indoor training, which has helped Joy to focus on her strength and conditioning. It also allowed Joy to travel to Manchester and Loughborough universities with a view to studying pharmacy at one of these next year. Joy also took the opportunity to attend her first British Futures training weekend at Loughborough where she accessed valuable information regarding nutrition, lifestyle, strength and conditioning and training blocks.
The accolades for Joy just keep coming! The British Supporter's Club awarded her the Junior Athlete of the Year award presented by Katherine Merry and she was also voted British Junior Athlete of the Year by the British Athletics' Writers. Joy also finished runner up to Kelly Hodgkinson (Olympic 800m silver medalist) in the Athletics Weekly awards for u20 athletes. Quite a collection for a 17 year old athlete.
Back on the track, Joy competed in an open meeting in December in Sheffield and ran 7.38s for 60m, a new p.b. and the 2nd fastest time in Europe for an u20 athlete and the 6th fastest time of the year by a British woman. Her achievement earned Joy an invitation to the British senior Championships in February, which are the trials for the forthcoming indoor World Championships.
September 2021 update: Joy got her season off to a fast start at the u20 G.B. international meeting in Loughborough, winning the 100m in a new p.b. of 11.65s. She also ran the 3rd leg of the 4 x 100m relay helping her team win gold. Another gold medal and new p.b. of 11.61s soon followed at the Northern u20 championships in Leigh in June. A week later at the English u20 age group championships, Joy was beaten to first place in a photo finish. However, her performance qualified her for selection for the European u20 championships in Estonia in August. Beforehand Joy had the opportunity to race against the senior women in the Olympic trials in Manchester. She acquitted herself well coming 9th fastest of the 3 semi-finals, just missing out on a chance to compete in the final.
With the experience gained from these events Joy travelled to Estonia full of confidence, despite being one of the youngest and least experienced athletes competing. In full view of t.v. cameras and a full stadium Joy produced a superb run in the semi-final to set a new p.b. of 11.48s to qualify for the final. The next day, despite being ranked as 15th fastest of the entrants, Joy set another p.b., of 11.44s, to win the bronze medal and the leading time for u18 European girls. To add to her successful championship Joy was able to experience the thrill of singing the National Anthem after being presented with her gold medal as part of the 4 x 100m relay team.
The end of the season saw Joy captain the u18 G.B. team at the Manchester international event, where she won the 100m before winning the 100m and 200m at the North East championships at the end of August.
Overall Joy set 8 personal best times this summer, represented G.B. on 3 occasions and finished the season ranked 1st at u20 in the U.K. (despite being only 17) and ranked 5th in the world at u18. A truly remarkable achievement - is there no stopping this young lady?
May 2021 update: The return of the “lockdown” at the beginning of January came as a real blow to Joy and her training group. However, she managed to organise some paired work with her friends which helped maintain her fitness. The closure of the track and especially indoor training, was particularly disappointing, but the Gateshead coaches managed to organise the use of some strength and conditioning equipment for her and Joy and her friends also used the football pitches in Walker and beyond to do their weight work and medicine ball exercises. Joy commented that “It wasn’t ideal at times especially when handling weight bars with freezing cold hands and jumping on rock hard ground”.
Joy decided to race buses up Rosehill in Wallsend with one of her athlete friends to keep her strength up. Her head teacher also allowed her to use her P.E. lessons to access the Gateshead track occasionally during the day. Once the restrictions on group sizes were lifted Joy was back training with her whole group, which was a big relief. Having access to the track during April was fantastic and encouraged Joy’s coach to enter her for an early season race, the Morpeth Open 200m. As she hadn’t raced for six months, Joy was sceptical as to how fast she could run, especially as it was a 200m race as opposed to her preferred distance of 100m.
Joy attacked the race from the start and although she ‘tied up’ towards the end she was both surprised and delighted to smash her P.B. recording 24.28 seconds. This time places her at the top of the G.B. rankings for Under 20 women and bodes well for the up coming European Championship trials in early June. Her coach told her that the time would get her noticed but she didn’t expect to receive an invitation from British Athletics to join their Future’s Relay programme for 2021. The programme will see Joy joining the u20 G.B. relay squad, attending team training events at Loughborough and provide an opportunity to be selected for the team. She will be able to use her scholarship funding to help offset the travel costs.
January 2021 update: Joy became our latest Sport Scholar when presented with the honour at the 2020 Annual Awards Dinner in March (just before lockdown).
Joy was a Sport Newcastle Rising Star in 2017 and has produced some outstanding results as a 60m, 100m and 200m sprinter ever since. She trains at Gateshead Harriers under the watchful eyes of coach, Mike Donnelly. Joy is in Y.12 at St. Mary's School, Newcastle and despite all the time she commits to her athletics she achieved brilliant GCSE results last summer.
In 2017 Joy was the fastest u13 female runner at 60m indoors in the country. She continued to perform well indoors and outdoors throughout the following season whilst competing against girls a year older. In 2019 Joy became the u17 English Schools champion, despite being 15 at the time. Her first England 'vest' soon followed as she represented her country in the home nations championship, winning both her individual event and anchoring the relay team to victory. At the start of 2020 Joy achieved the double of Scottish and English national u17 indoors 60m champion, setting a personal best of 7.51s at the English Championships. Joy's times as a junior are comparable to those of world champion, Dina Asher-Smith at the same stage of her career.
During the first lockdown Joy continued training 'at home' on her own, going for runs in the local parks and strength training outdoors. Relaxation of restrictions during the summer allowed Joy to compete in some local and regional events. These were quite different from normal, leaving alternate lanes empty and running in mixed gender races. However, it did provide competition and when Gateshead Harriers decided to enter a team for the u17 ladies London Connect Relays Championships, Joy was selected along with 3 team mates. Not only did they win they became the fastest women's team in the country that year. The team also broke the all time Gateshead Harriers record for any women's team.
Since the latest lockdown Joy has had to revert to training in the streets and parks around where she lives. She is very diligent in maintaining her fitness and she is looking forward to being able to start racing again as soon as possible.
Platinum Scholar: Toby Aberdeen (pistol shooter)
September 2023 update: Toby's season started in Hanover, where he reached the final of the 10m Air Pistol, securing a top six finish. The Junior World Cup also took place in Germany (in Suhl) and Toby didn't disappoint. He contributed to a British record performance in the mixed Team Standard Pistol, securing a bronze medal, being the first such medal for British Pistol shooters at a Junior World Cup.
Back home in Britain, Toby continued his undefeated run at the GB selection trials for the u22 junior age range and also competing as a senior was placed 2nd and 3rd. At the latest GB trials Toby smashed his p.b. by 13 points at the 25m rapid fire event, thereby achieving the qualifying standard for both the Junior European and World Championships coming up next year.
Toby continues to represent his club, the region and his country with distinction.
May 2023 update: The last few months have proved hectic for Toby with GB selection trials, domestic competitions and training camps - in addition to school work. The outcome has been Toby's selection for two international events in Germany. Toby's selection for the Junior World Cup for Rapid Fire pistol is the 1st for a GB athlete in over 10 years and a huge honour, especially as he has been training for it for only 18 months.
Domestically, Toby has competed at 10m Air Pistol in the Scottish, Welsh and British Championships as well as the British Shooting Air Series and Grand Final. He won silver medals in both the Welsh and British championships at u21 level. In 25m Rapid Fire he has competed in GB selection trials and finished 1st junior and 4th senior shooting his personal best, only 2 points away from the consideration scores for the junior world championship to be held in South Korea.
Toby's hectic schedule continues as he prepares for another GB selection event, the English Championships and Army Championships in addition to his 2 international competitions.
Needless to say, it's a very expensive sport, so if anyone reading this report can help fund Toby's dream of becoming an Olympic athlete please get in touch.
January 2023 update:
Toby is a member of Newcastle Air Pistol Club and trains at their shooting range in Benfield. He attends RGS Newcastle and is currently studying for his A-levels. As a Junior 25m pistol shooter Toby has represented Great Britain at the Nordic Championships in 2022, achieving the first men’s junior 25m final for British Shooting in over a decade, and is currently ranked GB no.1. In 10m Air Pistol Toby has moved up the British rankings to be the top youth athlete and 5th, under 21, Toby has also achieved the highest selection score in Junior rankings in 2022 with a score of 568, only 2 points off World Championships standard.
At the 2022 British Shooting Awards Toby received the huge accolade of being awarded the Pistol Pathway Athlete of the Year due to his phenomenal successes across 2022. First being recognised by Sport Newcastle as a Rising Star in 2018 the support he has received has been crucial to his success.
Our Platinum Award Scholars are usually chosen from our Rising Star awards which identifies about 12 young people each year who are already making a name for themselves in their chosen sport. Only the very best of these are selected to receive a grant of £1,500 per year for a maximum of 3 years.
We would like to be able to award more sports scholarships so if you feel your organisation would like to support a young person as a Sport Scholar we would like to hear from you!
If you are interested in sponsoring a young star of the future get in touch with Mike Booth: