Athletics: Lyne following the Coe road towards the world's stage

Same school, same club, same distance, same track - omens smile on an emerging talent

It was at Gateshead International Stadium, the venue for this afternoon's Norwich Union British Grand Prix, that the most celebrated member of Hallam-shire Harriers first made a middle-distance name for himself. Running in the mile in the Rediffusion Games in August 1976, he stole a 40-metre lead on John Walker in the Tyneside wind before the newly crowned Olympic 1500m champion reeled him in on the final lap.

In his hotel room that night, Walker wrote a letter to Arch Jelley, his coach back home in New Zealand, saying, "I nearly got beaten by a young guy and I don't even know who he is - somebody by the name of Sebastian Coe."

On the international track- and-field circuit, Becky Lyne is not quite as unknown a quantity as the 19-year-old Coe was when he lined up at Gateshead 30 years ago. In terms of general public recognition, though, the 23-year-old Hallamshire Harrier has yet to make an impact. Her two world-class runs on the European circuit in the past fortnight have both been achieved without the oxygen of TV coverage back home.

Still, the Sunday Grandstand cameras will be in place this afternoon when Lyne attempts to maintain the brilliant 800m form that took her to victory in the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games at Hengelo, Holland, two weeks ago and to an equally eye-catching runner-up spot in the opening Golden League meeting of the summer at the Bislett Games in Oslo nine days ago.

If Coe paved the way for his subsequent international successes with his performances at the tail end of the 1976 season, the Hallamshire club's latest middle-distance talent is already in the throes of breaking through - or so it would seem. In Hengelo, Lyne came within a whisker of breaking the two-minute barrier, improving her lifetime best from 2min 01.26sec to 2:00.04. In Oslo, she ran a superbly judged race, finishing strongly to split the 800m gold and silver medallists from the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in March: Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya and Kenia Sinclair of Jamaica.

It was the highest placing by a British woman in a Golden League event since Kelly Holmes, fresh from her Olympic double in Athens, was a 1500m runner-up to Tatyana Tomashova of Russia in Berlin in September 2004. "Oh, good company then," Lyne says, basking in the evening sunshine in the back garden of the house she shares with her boyfriend, Steve Vernon, and Pete Riley (third and first in the English cross-country champion-ships) at Mellor, on the climb towards the Peak District from Stockport. "It still feels a bit weird... 'I came second in a Golden League'. But I'm not going to get carried away or think that I've arrived, because I've not broken two minutes. There are several British girls within fractions of a second of me, and Susan Scott has run a lot faster. I'd be foolish to think that I'm there."

Like Coe, Lyne was raised in Sheffield and studied at Loughborough University. "I went to the same school in Sheffield, Tapton School," she says. "I've mentioned it when I've met him but I've only talked to him on a couple of occasions. I don't know if he would recognise me."

In addition to her modesty, the softly spoken Lyne has a level head on her shoulders, which can only help her get to where she wants to be this summer: the European Championships in Gothenburg in August. Only three places are available in the British team and - with Scott leading the rankings with the 1:59.02 she clocked for fourth place in the Commonwealth final, and three others already inside the qualifying standards - the woman of the moment in British athletics is wise to keep her eye on the ball of the trials meeting in Manchester next month. None the less, another impressive run today, with Jep-kosgei among her rivals, would add to Lyne's growing assurance on the track, and also give her the chance to use her degree in Spanish at the European Cup in Malaga later this month.

"It looks like I've made a sudden jump but it's been a gradual progression, really," she says. "I ran 2:01 consistently in 2004 and I felt I could have broken two minutes last summer until I got injured."

A young veteran of the 2002 Commonwealth Games and also the European Under-23 champion in her event in 2003, Lyne was hampered by injury throughout last winter, but after a somewhat peripatetic existence (at Loughborough, at Butler University in Indianapolis, and back home in Sheffield) she has benefited from a steady running life in the Stockport area.

Supported by Lottery funding and the Government's Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme, she fits her training around a part-time job with a clothing firm and coaching athletics to primary school children one day a week.

Joining the training group guided by Vernon's long-term coach, Dave Turnbull, has also helped, as has the backing of the noted athletes' agent Nic Bideau. "Nic has got me into the big races and that has made a massive difference," she acknowledges. Perhaps, though, Lyne was always destined to swim with the big fish of the track-and-field world.

"When I first started paying attention to athletics, I had some goldfish that I would name after all the athletes," she volunteers, when asked about the sporting idols of her youth. "I had one called Liz McColgan. One called Linford Christie. Sally Gunnell. Kelly Holmes. Those were the main ones."

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas