Sportshall Star

England Athletics’ very own Phoebe White shares her memories of competing in Sportshall Athletics competitions, and reflects on how it still influences her career in athletics.

How did you get involved with Sportshall Athletics?

I started doing Sportshall at school. I did my first competition in 2008-09 as an under 11 when I was in year 5. I also joined an athletics club who used the Sportshall format to keep up training over the colder months and just loved it. I competed all the way up to under 15s, the top age group for Sportshall Athletics, at regional and national level.

I started off on a team, but as I progressed through the age groups, I began to compete as an individual All-Rounder. I represented Birmingham at the National Finals three times, in 2011, 2012 and 2013, winning the National All-Rounder title in 2012 and 2013, which was my last year.

Young girl in sports kit hurdling on an indoor athletics track
Phoebe White as an Under 11 competing at the Sportshall Athletics West Midlands Championship in 2009.

It is worth noting a few of the other names to have won the Sportsahll All-Rounder title including Heptathlon Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European medallist Kelly Sotherton who won it in 1992, and current British high jump star Morgan Lake who won it in 2011, the year before Phoebe took the first of her two All-Rounder titles.

Girl in sports kit sprinting on an indoor athletics track
Phoebe White competing at the Aviva Sportshall Athletics Finals at the NEC, 2011. She would go on to be crowned individual All-Rounder champion in the following two years. Image: courtesy of Phoebe White

What was your favourite Sportshall Event?

Speed bounce. It combines agility and speed, and it’s just fun! 

In speed bounce, competitors jump two footed back and fourth over a low bar. It’s a test of stamina, agility and co-ordination. The competitor with the most passes over the bar in a set time is the winner.

And your most feared?

The 8 lap paarlauf which is essentially a relay where you compete with one other person. You have to really concentrate on the technique and at nationals you could be competing with someone you don’t know and haven’t had a lot of time to practice with which makes it trickier.

Outside of Sportshall what is your event?

I don’t compete anymore but I was a 300m runner. I went to English Schools’ every year between 2011 and 2016, with my best placing being 5th in the finals. I also went to the UK School Games representing the Midlands in 2013 and 14 and was part of the 4 x 300m relay team.

Newsclipping showing female athlete White wearing two gold medals and holding a certificate.
Phoebe White wins the Under 15 four lap race and the All-Rounder Title in 2012. Image: courtesy of Phoebe White

How did Sportshall link in with your more traditional athletics training?

Sportshall was always fun! It taught you to compete in multi-event environment. It also took away some of the high-pressures of the track season, I’d go back to Sportshall and remember just how fun athletics is when you get right down to it.

What do you think the legacy of Sportshall has been for you?

While I didn’t go on to compete at elite level like some of the other Sportshall winners I now work for England Athletics as the Talent Pathways Administrator so it’s a bit of a full circle moment. I have a career in athletics and get to be involved everyday in supporting athletes on our talent programmes. I went to the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago in 2023 as a member of team management. I think it’s really important to have a visible reminder for young athletes, so that they understand that there is more than one avenue into being and staying involved with athletics and to remember that it is supposed to be fun!

10 people in matching sports kit stand arm in arm on the beach at the edge of the sea
Phoebe (fourth from right) as part of the England Athletics Athlete Support Team enjoying a few minutes on the beach during Commonwealth Youth Games 2023, held in Trinidad & Tobago. Image: Phoebe White