“This is a pinch-me moment – I’ve officially been selected for the Tokyo Olympics,” says an excited Adelaide athlete Isobel (Izzi) Batt-Doyle after reaching the qualifying standard for the 5000m event to be named as one of the 63 member Australian athletics team.
“I still can’t believe I’m going to be representing Australia at my first Olympics!,” she exclaims from London during a break from training.
The Flinders University PhD candidate in psychology – whose partner Riley Cocks has also just made his personal best time at the Launceston Running Festival half marathon titles – entered this season with a 5000m personal best of 15:41 after bringing that down to 15:04 during a race in Nijmegan, Netherlands a month ago.
“Being an Olympian has been a lifetime dream of mine,” she says, making special mention of the incredible support from her parents who encouraged Izzi to set big goals and chase her running dreams which led her to take up a US collegiate scholarship at just 18 years old.
“At 18 years old I left home to chase my running dreams in the US and they have always encouraged me to set big goals and take risks.
“While I may not have understood the amount of work and dedication required until the last few years I’ve always believed I’d get there one day,” Izzie says.
Her journey to the Olympics has not been all smooth sailing, with an injury cycle full of MRIs, moonboots, cross training, anxiety and frustration.
Breaking free of injuries, Izzi has now recorded one of most consistent seasons yet, making her selection all the more sweet.
Izzie credits much of her recent success to her partner Riley Cocks, a Flinders University graduate – BHlthSc,MPhysio 2020 (Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master of Physiotherapy) – and now resident University physiotherapist, who has played the role of coach/physio/training partner/psychologist and “rode the highs and lows with me through this journey,” she says, also thanking trainer Nic Bideau, Kate Abraham, Shane McGregor and close friends Jacob and Ola, Bryn Nicholls and the RunAsOne ‘family’ for inspiring her track work.
Riley himself is an elite distance runner at the top of his game having recently set the South Australian record for the half marathon at Launceston with a time of 62:54. The previous record was 63:30 held by Brett Cartwright.
“It was a personal best for me by 41 seconds with my previous best of 63:35 set in Japan prior to the COVID pandemic at the start of 2020,” Riley says, who previously represented Australia and Flinders University at the World University Games in 2017 and 2019 – placing 8th and 10th respectively on the world stage.
At Flinders University, he also supports the Athlete Development Program, assisting the scholarship athletes in the physical side of combining their sport and their study most effectively, though treatments and programs as a physiotherapist.
Together Izzi and Riley own RunAsOne, a successful recreational running coaching business based at Victoria Park that was formed last year when the pandemic halted their racing and travel plans.
After their paths crossed once again at the 2017 World University Games in Taiwan, Izzi’s and Riley’s skills and knowledge combined to later set up the business based in Victoria Park near the city.
When COVID halted their planned international travel and competitions in 2020, the training group started with a small group of close friends and family to not only improve their own running, but help others to achieve their running goals.
“The whole of the RunAsOne family is a new community who brought a deeper love for running to me. Every time I run I want to make the group proud,” she says – also endorsing sponsors ASICS, 2XU and Flinders University spinout PREPD for “supporting my journey”.
“I can’t wait to line up in the women’s 5,000m with my euro buddy Rose Davies, and joined by Jenny Blundell who posted an impressive run back in Australia on the final day of selection,” Izzi adds.
You can watch Izzi race in the women’s 5000m heats at 8pm AEST on 30 July 2021.