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Full Name: Hayley Ovens (nee: Parkinson)
Born: 05/12/75 (Kirkcaldy, Scotland)
Sex:  Female
Occupation: Part-time nursery teacher
Height: 1.68m
Weight: 50kg
Event: Middle Distance
Club: Edinburgh Woollen Mill
Coach: Wilf Parkinson

Personal Bests:

400 57.85 2002  
1500 4:13.56 2003 Birmingham, GBR

1992 - 2001

Hayley won the Scottish Schools 1500m in 1992. She first broke 4:30 for 1500m in 1997 with 4:25.0. She improved to 4:21.27 in 1998, when she was British Universities and Scottish Champion and 4:19.87 to win the Scottish title in 2001. She was 20th at the Reebok Cross-country challenge in 2000.


Hayley had a major step forward in 2002 when she ran successive bests of 4:19.30, 4:18.53 and 4:17.03 before fourth at the Aqua-Pura Commonwealth Trials in 4:12.47. This secured her place in the Scottish Commonwealth Games team and in Manchester she ran 4:15.37 in her heat to gain a place in the final where she ran 4:16.95 for 12th. She also ran three personal bests for 800m during 2002 to 2:06.06 and was fourth at the Norwich Union Trials and AAA Championships.


Hayley started the year with a 1500m win in Glasgow in 4:19.05, and then ran an indoor best of 4:13.56 for 9th in the Norwich Union Grand Prix and 4:16.53 to win the AAA Indoor title. She was seventh in her heat at the World Indoors in 4:15.25. 

She started her outdoor track season with a personal best time of 9:23.11 for 3000m and had a good 1500m win at Loughborough in 4:16.63. She just missed her best with 4:12.53 at Cork. She was second at the AAAs in 4:13.61.





Running back to happiness

PLANNING ahead remains a necessity for any athlete and while all eyes will be on Kelly Holmes in the first track race of the rest of her career on Saturday in Glasgow, one lady will have Melbourne on her mind, writes Richard Lewis.

As Holmes won double gold in Athens in August, Hayley Ovens, Scotland's leading 1500m runner, had arguably the most difficult experience of her life with the death of her mother.

Holmes and Ovens will appear in the same race at the Norwich Union International at the Kelvin Hall and the Scottish star knows it does not really matter where she finishes in the 1500m event which tops the bill.

Her year is all about qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 14 months time. She will attempt to achieve that by running again at places where her mother would always be there to watch.

It will not be the first time that Ovens, 29, has raced against Holmes. At the last Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, they were both in the 1500m final.

Holmes won, Ovens was last. But the experience and the memories remain.

Ovens' late mother Isa delayed treatment for chemotherapy to watch her daughter run on that day but in August last year, she died.

"At first it was very difficult," says Ovens. "I had been injured. I thought maybe this all marks a natural end. Then of course some older athletes reminded me the Commonwealth Games are not far away, and I still managed to get a PB last year.

"After some thought and discussion with my dad (her coach), we picked up the pieces and got going again. We decided to give it another shot.

"It has been a mixture of emotions. It shows on the one hand how unimportant athletics is, but on the other, it (Melbourne) has given us a project to work on for my dad and my husband, who is a good training partner. Athletics has been a very purposeful thing. I see it both ways."

Ovens' target is to achieve the qualifying time of 4:13 for the Commonwealth Games, which take place in March next year, to accommodate the end of an Australian summer. She needs that mark between now and September and with a personal best of 4:10.94, she should achieve it.

Between now and then, Ovens will run looking to improve even more, but knowing that to make this year's world championships in Helsinki, she will have to run 4:05.

Wherever she is competing, she knows it is likely to remind her of her mother.

She says: "She was in Manchester at the last Commonwealth Games and on the day of the final, she was due to have chemotherapy. She asked the doctors if she could change the day. At first they were reluctant about it but when they found out it was the Commonwealth Games she was going to, they managed to swap weeks.

"I think about her every day and it is quite spooky going to competitions that she was at every year. She came to every competition and there is always a wee space in the crowd that should be hers and she is not there. That will be hard. We have a lot of good memories.

"She was 51 and I really admired my dad for keeping himself focussed and getting me through last season and getting the family through everything."

The five-way match between Britain, Russia, Sweden, Italy and France on Saturday marks the start of the major indoor season in Britain. Birmingham stages its annual Grand Prix next month, two weeks before the European Championships in Madrid in March.

That event is not part of the plans for Ovens, who is thinking on to next March and Melbourne. Soon she is heading away for warm weather training, hoping that in 12 months she will have the chance to rekindle the special feeling that running for Scotland at a major event brings.

Ovens says: "In Manchester it was funny. I was on the start line, someone in the crowd had a huge Scotland flag and they shouted 'Go on Scotland' - and all of a sudden I thought I wished I was a better athlete and for that moment I felt I represented the whole country.

"It is that bit more special and it was a fantastic experience. I had not quite expected the excitement generated from making the final.

"I have had nerves before a race but I have never had to deal with the excitement that comes after a race, knowing that you are going to have to race again the next day. It is a learning experience trying to come down from a heat the one day and coming back the next for the final.

"Melbourne will be a good motivator. I don't think it will be too hot but it won't be snowing.

"The atmosphere will be fantastic (on Saturday). But I will be very much in Kelly's shadow. I see it more as a race against the other athletes, not so much Kelly, because she is in a class of her own."



Norwich Union World Trials & AAA Championships - 1500m

Pre-race - 

Commonwealth Games-bound trio Helen Clitheroe, Hayley Tullett and Hayley Ovens all piled under the World Indoors entry standard of 4:16.00 in a Stuttgart race won by Alesya Turava (Belarus) in 4:08.05, the fastest time in the world this year.

Clitheroe (Preston) led through 800m in 2:13.36 and went on to finish fourth in 4:10.23 with Tullett (Swansea) immediately behind her in 4:10.63 and Ovens (Edinburgh) eighth in a PB of 4:11.72.

Clitheroe had gone even faster 24 hours earlier - 4:09.65 in Stockhholm with Katrina Wotton (Bedford and County) sensationally only seventh hundredths of a second behind her with a leading UK best of 4:09.65. It places the UK pair seventh and eighth in the World rankings so far this year!

Hayley Ovens (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) is expected to lead the challenge in Sheffield, in the absence of Hayley Tullett and Clitheroe.

In the women’s race, after battling through to the front, Hayley Ovens (Edinburgh Southern Harriers) stretched out the field for the seven and a half laps to take the gold ahead of Katrina Wootton (Bedford & County), who had shown strong 1500m form already this winter. 

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