MIDDLE-distance ace Melissa Courtney admits she could ask for an extension on her dissertation deadline – if a more pressing assignment at the European Championships goes to plan.

The 22-year-old, a proud member of Poole Athletic Club, is tonight due to compete in her first major senior championships when she lines up in the 1500m heats at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam.

Former Parkstone Grammar pupil Courtney only qualified for Europeans last month when she ran a personal best of 4:07.55 in finishing second on the undercard of the Birmingham Diamond League meeting, just 0.55 seconds short of the qualifying time for Rio 2016.

And if the Brunel University student enjoys a couple of big runs in the Netherlands over the next few days, her master's degree in sports psychology might just have to go on the back burner.

Courtney told the Daily Echo: "I've finished everything apart from my dissertation which is due in September, but depending on how this summer goes, I may look for an extension.

"I may want an extra couple of months but it just depends how much I can get done as the summer is so busy with racing.

"If things went really well and I ended up going to a holding camp for Rio, I would look to extend it.

"I'm half a second off the qualifying time so it's still a bit of a jump but I feel there is still another good PB in me.

"I'll be happy if I run that time by the end of the year but whether it happens before the Olympic deadline is another question.

"I'm only 22 and I'd be absolutely over the moon if I made it but I'm still so happy just to get my first senior vest.

"I know a lot of people who have automatic places for Rio who are a few years older than me, which makes me realise I do have time.

"My main aim this year was to get to Europeans and that was always going to be really challenging in itself."

Raised in Parkstone and now based in Loughborough, Courtney's number one mission is to progress when she takes her place at the start line tonight (5.15).

She added: "My main aim is to qualify for the final. I'm ranked inside the top 10 in Europe at the moment and there will be 12 athletes in the final.

"That will be first aim and if I get to the final I will try and be as competitive as possible.

"In the 1500m, anything can happen. It depends how the race is run and you can never write off any position."

Courtney, who has been a Poole AC member since she was 11, narrowly missed out on selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games with Wales.

Her boyfriend is another member of the Great Britain set-up, decathlete Ashley Bryant.