Mark Pearce Steeplechase

Birmingham Talent Hub scholars on radar for Paris

PATHWAY TO PARIS – With the UK Athletics Outdoor Championships 2024 taking place in Manchester from 29 – 30 June, current student Oliver Dustin and alumni Issy Boffey, Mark Pearce and Sarah McDonald train hard to qualify and gain selection for Team GB at the Paris Olympics 2024. 

Oliver Dustin


Current Healthcare Technologies master’s student, Oliver, is an 800m runner originally from Workington. Running from the age of nine, he took every opportunity to get on the track through clubs, school and the University.


Back in 2021, Oliver temporarily held the fastest worldwide time in the Men’s 800m. He had a taste of Olympic level competition in Tokyo, but unfortunately didn’t secure a spot in the final race due to his performance at the heats.


After facing several challenges on his journey, including illnesses and injuries post Toyko Olympics, Oliver has remained positive and worked incredibly hard to get himself back on the track and performing optimally.

Ollie Dustin running
Issy Boffey holding medal to camera

Issy Boffey


University alumna, Issy, is an 800m runner who graduated in 2022 with a degree in Biomedical Sciences.


Beginning her running journey at the young age of eight, Issy has numerous medals under her belt, securing gold in the U18, U20 and U20 European Athletics. She then progressed to senior level representation, securing first place at the 1,000m at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix.


2023 was a strong year for the athlete, achieving personal bests in the 800m indoors and outdoors, along with a winning national title at the British Indoor Championships.


Coached by Luke Gunn, Head of Performance at the University, Issy has become good friends with Luke and wife Hannah England outside of athletics!

Mark Pearce


Originally from Hertfordshire, Mark is a 3,000m steeplechase athlete who graduated in 2018 with a degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Mark was part of the BUCS Cross Country team at the University, and in his final year decided to try out steeplechase, as one of the few distanced running events he’d not yet done. That same year, he won first place in the England U23 championships.


Fast forward to 2021, he became the 3,000m steeplechase British champion. More recently in May 2024, Mark achieved his personal best in Brussels, to then be selected for Team GB at the European Athletics Championships this month in Rome.

Mark Pearce close up
Sarah McDonald on track

Sarah McDonald


Sarah is a middle-distance runner from Newcastle, specialising in the 1,500m. Graduating from the University with a degree in Medicine back in 2018, she is returning this year to embark on her journey into Dentistry


Over the last few years, Sarah has accumulated several GB titles. In 2017, she became a finalist in the European Cross Country championships, running the fastest leg of the day. Moving into 2018, Sarah competed in the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, placing eight in the 1,500m.


In 2019 she became a semi-finalist in the Doha World Championships, topped by a gold finish at the European Cross Country mixed relay.

Our Paris hopefuls demonstrate impressive sporting journeys, and we now look to the end of June where we hope to see the Paris Olympics become the next part of their exciting paths.

Make sure to keep up to date with our #PathwayToParis journey via our blogs and Instagram channel.