Claire Heafford: Athlete Profile

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As an athlete, I have 30 years experience in elite sport competing at a national level from the age of six in five different disciplines; gymnastics, cross-country running, athletics, weightlifting & skeleton bob. From 1992 - 2007 I was part of UK Sport funded national squads, world-class talent identification programmes & English Institute of Sport development schemes. This wealth of knowledge means I am a highly adaptable coach who enjoys tailoring sessions to fit my clients needs.


Artistic Gymnastics: Junior British Development Squad member & bronze medalist vault final Junior British Championships 1994

Athletics 400m hurdles: 4th in the UK in the 2004 U23 national 400m hurdles finals & senior representative honours for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, Surrey, London & South of England

Weightlifting: London weightlifting Champion 48kg category 2006

Skeleton Bob: Team member for UK Sport funded British Skeleton Bob Talent Identification Programme 2007

10 of the Best: My favourite teammates & training partners

When I look back over my sporting career, there is one thing that stands out to me more than any other. The respect, love and admiration I have for the talented warrior women & men I was privileged to train with. Day-in-day-out for 20 years, I got to hang out with some of the world’s most bloody minded, ambitious & driven athletes - here are a few of my favourites:

Peri Shakes Drayton – British Olympic 400m hurdler / Karin Symko - British Olympic gymnast / Amy Williams – British Olympic Skeleton Bob Champion / Yamilla Aldama – Cuban World Triple Jump Champion / Trisha Smith – Jamaican World Triple Jump Champion / Marilyn Okoro – British Olympic 800m runner  / Katy Lennon - British Olympic Gymnast / Emma Suckling – British European Championship gymnast / Andrea Miller – New Zealand Commonwealth Games 100m hurdler


From 1986–91 I trained in ballet, sports-acrobatics & artistic gymnastics with Trish Maude MBE at Homerton College Cambridge, where I reached my first national finals in tumbling at the age of 9. From 1991 – 95 I moved across the country to be trained in the Russian style of artistic gymnastics by the legendary Vladimir Axenov, coach to Russian Olympic champion Olga Mostopanova at Leatherhead & Dorking Gym club. During this time I won medals at regional & national championships & was a member of the Junior British Squad attending regular residential training camps with British Gymnastics Head Coach Adrian Stan. Training included a grueling 25-30 hour per- week schedule of strength & conditioning & discipline specific skills on the asymmetric bars, beam, floor and vault. In 1994 I won the bronze medal in the Junior British Championships for vault. Training partners included British Olympians Karin Symko & Katy Lennon.


Cross Country Running

From 1995 – 2000 I trained & raced as a middle distance runner for Epsom & Ewell Harriers. During this time I competed annually in 800m, 1500m & short-course cross-country races at county championships, Surrey League cross-country fixtures & Southern Women’s League track events. Key achievements included representing Surrey at the English Schools team Cross-Country Championships & completing the Tough Guy endurance adventure race


From 2000 - 2006 I trained and raced nationally & internationally in the 400m hurdles for Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers. Key achievements included placing, 6th at the UK Under 23 Championships in 2003 & 9th – 15th in the UK as a senior (PB: 59.9 400mH). I also regularly represented Surrey & the South of England in the 400mH & my proudest moment came racing world 400m hurdles champion Jana Pitman at the Loughborugh International in 2004. Teammates & training partners over the years included British Olympian & 800m runner Marilyn Okoro, New Zealand sprint hurdles champion Andrea Miller, British 3000m steeplechase record holder Jo Ankier, British Olympian & 400mH Perri Shakes Drayton, Cuban world indoor triple Jump champion Yamile Aldama & Jamaican world triple jump champion Trisha Smith.

Olympic weightlifting & skeleton bob

From 2003 - 2005 I trained alongside a group of UK Sport funded England women rugby players while being coached by English Institute of Sport strength & conditioning coach Tabo Huntly at St Mary’s high performance centre Twickenham. During my time under the tutelage of Tabo Huntly I trained with the players on all aspects of their non-ball skills training, including olympic lifting & power lifting, plyometrics, medicine ball work, sprint drills and hill-running-based speed sessions. Training at St Mary’s alongside both female and male professional rugby players from the west London Union and League teams allowed me to develop a strong understanding & love for power based training methods.  In 2005, encouraged by the EIS Strength & Conditioning coaches at St Mary’s, I went on to develop my knowledge of Olympic weightlifting with national coach Keith Morgan at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. In 2006 I competed in & won the London weightlifting championships for the 48kg category and with my new found strength & power was recruited in 2007 to spend the season taking part in a UK Sport funded talent identification programme with the British skeleton bob team where I trained alongside Olympic champion Amy Williams & competed in the British Skeleton Bob Championships for a place on the British Team.