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Hannah Hits The High Notes

Published Tuesday 30th of September 2014 02:09:17 PM

Hannah Tapley, Year 11, is nothing if not determined, as her mother will testify. At the age of just 13 months, and again at 4 years, she was put in full body plaster to correct Congenital Dislocation of the Hip. How amazing then that at 15, she has bounded to High Jump success, representing her country twice, and seizing a clutch of championships at regional and national level.

Determination, resilience, fortitude she has it in spades; and her tireless dedication to training, self-improvement, and the competitive spirit marks her out as a true professional. No surprise that Hannah is aiming high: her ambition is to compete for Team GB in the next Olympic and Commonwealth Games.

Hannah started showing an interest in sport whilst at Prep school Hatherop Castle in Gloucestershire where she started out as a long-distance Cross Country runner. She joined Cirencester Athletics at the age of 9 and entered the Oxfordshire League for Cross Country running. Keen to keep active and experiment with a wider range of sporting disciplines, in the summer months she took part in the training of junior athletic disciplines. She found that she was good at jumping, and that realisation set the course for her subsequent athletics career.
Due to a lack of facilities at her local club, Hannah joined Swindon Harriers, Running, Jumping and starting Pole Vault. Meanwhile at school, she became active on the schools' competitions circuit and managed to get to the ISA competitions which gave her a taste for competitive jumping.

For Senior school, Hannah chose MSJ, where as a Sports Scholar she benefits from the MSJ Sports Scholar Programme. We make exceptional provision for scholars, adapting pupils' academic timetables to accommodate sports training schedules and fixtures, and providing each girl with professional support via the MSJ Sports Mentoring Programme.

Hannah, who already this Autumn Term has taken Bronze in the national Sainsbury's Games, says, 'I'm not naturally organised, but MSJ has helped me organise myself better, and be more independent and forward-thinking, so that I manage my time efficiently. This way I can continue by passion for Athletics without negatively impacting my school work'.

Deborah Tapley, Hannah's mother, comments, 'Malvern St James has gone above and beyond, supporting Hannah with her training, arranging to take her regularly to the Worcester track, and has helped her balance her academic studies and sporting commitments'.

Hannah has chosen to full board so that she is able to focus on her studies as well as her personal and School team sporting commitments. She has also been able to join Worcester Athletics Club which has a fully qualified High Jump Coach, Deirdre Elmhirst. Two years ago, Deirdre agreed to meet with Hannah and allow her to trial. Hannah is now part of her High Jump Squad, and Deirdre's expertise and encouragement have seen Hannah step up to a new level and build on her previous success.

Hannah's season started with indoor success in February becoming the National Indoor Champion for U17 High Jump. This win is all the more impressive as Hannah is only 15 and this is her first year in the older age group. Subsequent wins for 2014 include: ISA National Champion, Wiltshire County Champion, Runner-Up Masons Trophy, Silver Medal English Schools, Silver Medal International SIAB, Serveline Midland League Division 3 Record, Midlands County Champion, and at the start of the Autumn Term, Bronze Medal at the Sainsbury's School Games. She was asked to attend warm weather training in Ayamonte, Spain through the Easter holidays which has helped prepare her for this season's achievements.

Throughout this season, Hannah has broken many records and has improved her own personal best, currently standing at 1.74m as well as twice representing England. As we go into her GCSE year, it is her intention to train hard through the winter so that the bulk of the work is done then, and she can focus on her exams in the summer term as well as competing at higher level events. She aims to have a new Personal Best of 1.8m by the end of this season.

Mrs Woodhouse, Headmistress, says of Hannah, 'We are so proud of each and every one of her achievements, particularly as we see all the year-round hard work and determination that goes into her training. She makes it look so effortless, but no sportswoman achieves at this level without being utterly focused. She is a great ambassador for the School; she has many repeat mentions in the School's Book of Excellence which commends personal achievement; and she is an inspiration and role model to the School community. I really do think that I will be there in the crowd - in Brazil, in 2016 - watching her make her Olympic debut, and feeling so, so proud'.

Hannah's ambition remains to jump 2 metres, and to be the first woman to do this wearing a Team GB vest.
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