An incredible season for Luke Duffy, of Mansfield Harriers, was capped by a magnificent gold medal at the national finals of the UK School Games.
And to make it a memorable double for Harriers at the last major track meeting of the season, Anna Smith also picked up a silver medal at the prestigious event, which was held at Loughborough University.
The duo represented England North at the Games, with Duffy pitted against the English, Scottish and Irish schools champions in the 1500m. At halfway, he looked as if he was feeling the effects of a long season of competition, clocking a slow 2.12 minutes, and when the English champion, Yuself Bizimana, kicked with 200m to go, he struggled to stay with him.
Duffy approached the home straight about two metres behind his rival, but dug deep and found one last effort, passing Bizimana with about 20 metres to go to take the gold. Even more impressive was his last-lap time of 55 seconds, which showed how much blistering speed he had left.
Smith tacked the 800m and was returning to racing after a holiday. In a slowly-run race, she got herself into a perfect position with 100 metres to go, but in a charge for the line, she was just beaten by a Scottish rival who had finished sixth in the Commonwealth Games and was a 400m specialist able to unleash a superior burst of pace.
Nevertheless, Smith was still pleased with her performance which, along with Duffy’s, helped England North take the team title at the Games.
Talking of young talent at Mansfield Harriers, another athlete well worth a mention is Nathan Ellis, who put in a superb perfgormance at the Leicester 10K, knocking 3.30 minutes off his best time to run 49.28 minutes.
Ellis only joined the club in the spring but the structured training he now benefits from has resulted in his 10K times coming down by fully 14 minutes, with the potential for much more development in the future.