Biochemistry alumna, Hannah England, is no stranger to the podium. A true game changer, the World Championship 1500m silver medallist represented her country at two Commonwealth Games, two World Championships, two European Championships, and not forgetting the Olympics in 2012.
Hannah, a true legend of the track and field world, began competing at an international level during her time with us and was a BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) 1500m indoor title and holder of the BUCS 1500m indoor record for 10 years (only to be broken by fellow University alumna Sarah McDonald).
To set the scene, Hannah’s early career had some disappointments. Before the Daegu World Championships in 2011, she did not make the team for the last world championships, or the Beijing Olympics the year before. In 2011, 10 women had run faster than her that year, yet she gained a place in the final as a fastest loser. But she did not let this hold her back. Hannah’s place in British sporting talent was cemented through her silver medal for 1500m at Daegu at the 2011 World Championships. Despite the amazing achievement, Hannah was humble and took the moment to encourage others to believe in themselves - in an interview immediately after her medal win she remarked how she ‘definitely surprised myself’.
It was never just what Hannah did on the track (or on the cross country, having made an appearance at European Cross Country Championships whilst at UoB) that inspired athletes of all ages, it was the way in which she did it, with true professionalism, integrity, friendship, openness, kindness and modesty.
Beyond the track
Hannah is well and truly committed to the progress of sport. She was elected as the first chair of the athletes’ commission for her sport in 2018, a role elected by her fellow athletes. The same year also saw Hannah being elected as a British Gymnastics’ Athlete Ambassador. Alongside these roles, Hannah (alongside Dean Miller, former training partner, European bronze medallist, Paralympian and UoB alum) founded and continues to coach a non-profit Athletics Academy as well as acting as a consultant for the International Olympic Committee, namely over the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and recently Hannah has come back to where it all started, and joined UoB Sport & Fitness as Sport Scholarship Officer within the Performance Centre.
A sign of an athlete’s impact when they hang up their spikes is not only what they achieved within their sport, but the impact they have had outside of their sporting achievements. Now also a commentator for channels such as the BBC, Hannah is continuing to build a more inclusive, fairer future for the sport. It is for this reason that it is so difficult to summarise Hannah’s game-changing footprint not only on athletics, but on the University of Birmingham, Birmingham as a city and fundamentally on sport, both here in the UK and globally.