Rising star Henry Dover looks back on a great year

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We speak to a record-breaking middle-distance talent about his 2022 season and ambitions for the future

When Henry Dover crossed the finish line to win the TCS Mini London Marathon in October, he cemented his place as one of Britain’s young, bright distance runners. Having come second twice before, it was third time lucky and a particularly sweet victory. 

This has been a huge year for the 17-year-old who also broke a 3000m championships record that had stood for 42 years – running 8:24.06 at the England Athletics Under-17 Championships in Bedford. His subsequent 8:15.26 for the distance put him No.5 on the UK all-time rankings and pushed Mo Farah down to sixth so he’s in good company.

He also topped the podium for the 1500m at the English Schools Championships and the SIAB Schools International. We caught up with him to look over his incredible year and look ahead to what the future has in store.

How did you get into athletics?

It was completely by accident. I was always very sporty and I really loved football. I went to my local athletics track Colchester and Tendring Athletics Club (CATS) just to get fitter for football. I did a couple training sessions there and my coach put me into a couple of races and that was when I realised I was actually pretty good at running and maybe it should take over from football.

What made you choose distance running?

I chose distance running because, when I played football, I would always be running around the pitch – twice as far as any other player – without getting tired. Also, in primary school cross-country races, I would be miles in front of everybody, so I knew I had the endurance in me, even without that much training. 

What did it mean to win the Mini Marathon?

The Mini Marathon was the one I wanted. I had previously come second twice, and I could not let that happen again. When crossing the finish line, there was a great sense of relief. Meeting the legendary Eliud Kipchoge after the race was a huge honour which I will never forget [right]. He’s a global star and to have him there at the end made it even more incredible.

How did it feel to break Jonathan Richards’ 42-year-old 3000m championships record this summer and then push Mo Farah down the all-time rankings?

Breaking it was a surprise! It was late in the season and I was tired. I went into it wanting a slow race then a last-lap burn-up. I got the burn-up but definitely not the slow race – it was a painful one. Pushing Mo Farah down to sixth was honestly something I knew I had in me. It was my first 3000m in a very long time so my coach was expecting a sub-8:30, however I silently knew I was capable of a lot more…and I still do!

Henry Dover (366) and Oscar Schofield (Mark Shearman)

Do you prefer track, road or cross country running? And why?

Track will always be my favourite. You run the fastest on the track and that’s what I like. I also like the warmer weather and it’s much more enjoyable than the freezing cold cross-country season. However, by the end of the summer, you do get a bit bored of running in circles, so I like to do a few road races. My first ever races were cross-country so I still enjoy them and they will always hold something special, but track is my favourite.

Who is you athletics hero?

David Rudisha. He is a true great of the sport. I think I have watched his London 2012 800m final about 100 times and I still get chills.

Who has supported you throughout your journey so far?

I’ve had two coaches so far in my career who both had an impact on me. My first [Bob Kimber] inspired me to go on to what I am doing now. He introduced me to athletics and I am forever grateful for that. My current coach Mark Goddard, who I’ve been with for the last three to four years, is the reason I have achieved what I have this summer.

We work really hard in training and on getting the mileage right to maximise training. I can’t forget my osteopath, Austen Spooner, who runs The Willow Health Clinic in Essex. He helps me with any issues I have and is vital when it comes to me staying injury-free. I also have my parents to thank. They have to drive me everywhere!

How do you find balancing all your training with education and having a teenage life too?

I train at my school [Woodbridge School] and have a great running club there so getting to training after school is not an issue so I can manage my time well. It means much less travelling all over the place. I also love watching the football as I still love the game so that’s my distraction from schoolwork and running.

READ MORE: Mini London Marathon 2022

What is the ultimate dream?

The ultimate dream is to keep running! I’m excited to see where it takes me and I am just enjoying the process.

Can you sum up your journey so far in a short sentence?

The hard work pays off. 

» This article first appeared in the November issue of AW magazine

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