Honington athlete Holly Archer targets run into Great Britain's Tokyo Olympic Games team after taking 1500m silver medal in European Indoor Championships
Just a year ago Honington runner Holly Archer admits heading to the Tokyo Olympics in Japan as a competitor was just a pipedream.
But after a lot of hard work to harness her talents, the most dramatic night of the former Samuel Ward Academy pupil's life culminated in a medal at her first major international event.
And Saturday’s silver in the 1500m at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland – which was reinstated on appeal after she was disqualified for the way she positioned herself – has suddenly brought a summer race in the Far East into sight.
“In January the goal was to make my first ever GB team, medals did not even come into my head,” the non-funded runner, who was raised in Kedington, near Haverhill, told Suffolk News.
“Once I did that the next goal was to get the medal and I worked so, so hard for it.
“Hopefully now I can work on the next goal, to get selected for Tokyo.
“I have got 110 days or so until the selection trials and I have to throw everything at it.”
The 27-year-old, who has been allowed to train on Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre’s track in lockdown, knows she has some big decisions to make in the coming days.
She currently works full-time in marketing for Cambridge-based biotechnology company Cycle Pharmaceuticals. It was her job which saw her switch from representing West Suffolk to running for Cambridge & Coleridge AC in 2018, but the company’s support with remote working has also helped to get her to where she is.
“They have honestly been a great support but one thing I cannot spare now is time,” she said.
“I am going to have to make a decision with it, whether that be going part-time or time out.
“When I was away in Poland it was a problem as I was still having to think about things and send emails.”
New personal best before dramatic final
Archer was ranked fifth in her heat in Poland, but she claimed a clear victory in a new personal best of four minutes and 9.77 seconds.
In a slow and physical final she was stuck back in sixth place with 300m to go but eventually managed to get past the traffic with a strong finish to come second in 4:19.91.
Belgium’s Elise Vanderelst took gold in 4:18.44, and Germany’s Hanna Klein was third in 4:20.07.
More drama then unfolded as she learnt she had been disqualified and had to face a three-hour wait in the warm-up area, where she took to Instagram with her tearful initial reaction. The emotional roller-coaster continued with a successful appeal which had to stand up against a counter-appeal before her medal position was reinstated.
“I was sitting in a corner crying,” she said. “Within those three hours I probably gained about 4,000 followers! I also got lots of contact from people at West Suffolk, which was great.
“Looking back I did think it was an unfair disqualification but everyone makes mistakes and I will learn from it.”
She must now meet the Olympic qualification standard for her event, which is 4:04.20 outside and a top two spot in the British trials. But she is confident she has plenty more improvement in her times.
Meanwhile, after two nights with next to no sleep ahead of returning home to Suffolk on Monday, the drama continued for Archer as she learnt she is now having to self isolate for 10 days, following a British Athletics staff member testing positive for Covid.
* Any companies willing to help with the financial support to get her to the Tokyo Olympics can contact her by emailing email@example.com or via her social media accounts.
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