Bolton United Harrier Hannah Kelly is aiming for a maiden Olympic Games in Paris this year after helping Team GB’s women’s 4x400m relay team qualify this month.

The 23-year-old, from Bury, was one of eight women to compete in the 4x400m relay women’s and mixed teams at the World Relay Championships in the Bahamas.

The event is the qualifying event for countries to compete at the Olympics and after a holding camp in Florida, Kelly joined her team-mates in ensuring Team GB booked their place in France this summer after finishing second in the heats to automatically qualify.

The former Holy Cross College student ran the second leg in 51.06secs - the second fastest time of the GB team, and was then selected to run the crucial last leg in the final.

She ran a 50.63 split and was fastest of all the British girls - and fifth fastest of all the competitors across the eight countries - as GB finished fourth.

Kelly told The Bolton News: “It was really good and great to get the team qualified for the Olympics.

“It is still hard to believe sometimes that I am now racing at the level against girls I used to watch on TV, but I think it has also brought the best out in me.

“I feel comfortable at this level and all the girls in the squad get on so well - the support for each other is amazing.

“To run with the girls and get a bronze at the indoors, then have the experience in the Bahamas has been great.

“I knew I could compete at this level and that it was coming.

“This time last year I was injured but I knew I could get to this level and now the aim is to keep getting better and faster.”

While Team GB are assured of a place in Paris, individuals like Kelly will not know if they have been selected until after the British Championships, in Manchester, at the end of next month.

Kelly is geared up for the key meet, and the European Championships before that, in Rome in early June, hoping good runs and her form so far this year will see her on the plane to the French capital as part of the Team GB squad.

She added: “The squad gets picked after the British Champs so hopefully I can run well there.

“It does take into account the races this season as well so fingers crossed I do enough. It is exciting times.”

Kelly’s potential has never been in doubt for anyone who has witnessed her progression in a Harriers vest, particularly long-time coach, Les Hall, who has been by her side for more than a decade.

Starting out as a 100m and 200m runner - the latter being her favourite distance for some time - she has developed into a superb 400m competitor.

She admits she loves the relays but also likes competing individually over one lap, admitting that Hall always told her she would develop into a fine 400m athlete.

And the rising star says his coaching and the support of her family, taking her training and events as a youngster have played a key role in achieving her dreams of competing on the world stage.

Kelly continued: “Les has been coaching me since I was 10, so 13 years and he has done so much for me and encouraged me.

“He always said I would end up doing 400.

“I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without him or my family.

“As a kid, I had so much support - being there when it went well but also when it didn’t go to plan to help keep spirits up..

“ I may be older now but that support is still important to me and hopefully I can achieve the dream this year of getting to the Olympics and running alongside girls who are not just team-mates but my friends.”

Full focus is on those two big championships coming up and while she still has a three-day-a-week job in admin at the university - and a dream of being a lawyer in the future after studying law at degree level - for now it is all about Operation Paris.