Cassie Thorp is set to be propelled to elite status at this year’s BUPA Great South Run.
City of Portsmouth’s rising star will be in with the big guns as the world’s biggest 10-miler returns to the city on Sunday.
Thorp has undergone a hurtling 12 months since coming to City’s attention at last year’s race.
She was taken under respected coach Gerry North’s wing, where she has been gaining advice from one of the best in the business.
That has helped the transition from football to the road after she shone for Pompey Ladies.
Thorp is looking to push on to greater things after her obvious running talent came to light.
The target will be hoping to negotiate the fast, flat Great South Run circuit in an hour this year.
And now the 23-year-old from Eastney will be in with the heavy hitters on the start line this weekend as she aims to do that.
Thorp said: ‘I thought, I’m a lot better at this than I thought I would be and it would be silly of me to neglect it.
‘I will keep pushing myself until I can’t do any more and see where it takes me along the way.’
Thorp has set the bar high in her ambitions for the future.
She wants to go on to international level further down the line and harbours ambitions of one day making it to the Olympics.
Her rate of progress shows that is certainly no pipe dream, either.
Thorp is now ranked number one at under-23 level nationally over five miles.
Thorp said: ‘My dream is to represent Great Britain at some level in either cross country or track.
‘And the ultimate dream is to get to the Olympics.
‘The best thing about long distance running is the sense of achievement when the hard work pays off and you keep beating your personal best.’
Thorp, who is studying a degree in sports development at the University of Portsmouth, as well as working as a personal trainer at ROKO Health Club in Copnor, will be around some of the world’s best distance talent on the start line on Sunday.
And that will stir memories of a special moment earlier this year as she took part in the BUPA London 10,000.
Thorp was in with marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe on that occasion – a moment she won’t forget.
She said: ‘Paula Radcliffe was at the start line next with me.
‘It was a pretty surreal moment to start with her.’
For more information about running or competing, email email@example.com