Chiswick athlete Georgia Bell wins silver in European Athletics Championships

Image: Georgia Bell after the heats in Rome; YoutTube

“I can’t stop smiling”

Georgia Bell, an athlete from Chiswick, has won a silver medal at the European Athletics Championships. She finished second behind Ireland’s Ciara Mageean in the 1,500 metres event held in Rome last Sunday (9 June).

Following what she described as a chaotic heat, where she placed second behind France’s Agathe Guillemot, Georgia secured her first major outdoor championship medal. This marks a significant improvement from her fourth place at the World Championships in March, which was in itself a remarkable achievement.

Speaking after winning, Georgia said:

“It feels amazing to be a European silver medallist; I can’t stop smiling. I knew it would be a tough race against a strong field. I just couldn’t stop smiling on the start line; it’s so fun to be here. I should be at work tomorrow morning, but instead, I’m competing at the European Championships, so I am very happy.

“Even six months ago, I would have thought it was crazy if someone told me I’d win a European silver. I was unranked, unsponsored, and my personal best in the 1500m was 4:06, which wasn’t near enough to qualify. Seeing where I am now, I’m very proud of myself and excited for the future.

“No one wants to finish fourth, so I had to dig in. We put a lot of hard work into this; I was still working full-time and fitting training around it. It’s nice to now take a little break over the summer to focus on my running, which has honestly made a world of difference. Having my time back to focus on improving has been great.”

Hopes remain for Georgia to join Team GB in Paris Olympics

The 30-year-old, a former pupil of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Primary School, now has the Olympic qualifying time but still needs to do more to join Team GB in Paris.

The challenge she faces is the extraordinary talent among British women in the event, including Laura Muir, the fastest in Europe, who did not compete in Rome.

Based on current fastest times, Georgia is unlikely to be selected, but her rapid improvement gives her hope. She has shaved nearly six seconds off her personal best in a short time after recently returning to competitive running and full-time training. With a new sponsorship deal, she still has time to impress the selectors.

Perhaps the most significant aspect of her silver in Rome is that it was won ahead of her Team GB rival Katie Snowden.

Georgia was participating in Parkruns over two years ago but has steadily reduced her personal best, thanks to her coach Trevor Painter.

Her record is 4.00.41, achieved on 24 May at the 2024 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, which is three seconds better than her time at the World Championships, demonstrating an astonishing rate of improvement.

Although she remains 10 seconds behind the best times achieved by top African runners this year, Georgia has a proven track record of performing on big stages and, while she might be an outside bet for selection for Paris, her chances are improving daily.