A superb silver medal was won by one of Mansfield Harriers’ rising teenage stars, Luke Duffy, at the National U17 and U15 Championships at the weekend -- even though he was tackling older runners.
The championships, held at the Bedford International Stadium, are one of the highlights of the track and field season. But 15-year-old Luke took the event by storm in the U17 1500m, confirming his status as the number one in the UK for his school year, both in terms of performances and times.
In his heat on the Saturday, when only four would qualify, he was involved in a desperate five-runner sprint for the line. But he finished second, fractionally in front of three of his rivals and so returned to the stadium the next day for the final.
Luke was expecting a top-six finish but knew that a medal would be a huge challenge because he was in the younger year of the two-year age group. However, a scintillating 57-second last lap saw him charge through the field to take second with 50m to run and then hang on for silver as two opponents chased him down.
Another Harrier, Bethany Williams, was aiming to heap more credit on the club when she competed in the British Milers Club gold standard series at Watford. However, an accident on the M1 delayed her journey by 90 minutes and she arrived at the track with only 15 minutes to spare, unable to warm up.
Feeling lethargic, she still managed to run a superb time, her second fastest of the year, but she came away disappointed.
The weekend also saw ten junior Harriers compete at a Stars Of The Future event at Loughborough, which embraced several track and field disciplines.
At U11 level, Tammy Smith enjoyed a good day, clocking a personal-best (PB) time in the 75m, just missing her best distance in the long jump and running a terrific 150m. Brother and sister duo Ava and Ellis Blake also starred, with the former clocking a PB in the 75m, while Alistair Homewood raced up to his best in the 75m and ran with credit in the 600m.
Several PBs were recorded by the U13 girls, with Sophie Brown coming second in her sole event, the shot putt, thanks to a throw of 8.33m. Bryony Evans added another two metres to her javelin best, taking victory with 26.99m, and also made the final of the 100m. What’s more, she finished third in the long jump with 4.18m. Ellie Sheppard clocked a new PB in the 100m heats with 14.23 and also came third in the shot with 7.57m, while Tania Smith won three events, the 100m, long jump and shot, and came second in another, the javelin.
At U15 level, Jess Lake ran close to her best in the 100m, came third in the long jump and then won the triple jump in her first try at the event, jumping 9.97m. Kelsey Pearce again showed her quality, improving on her best in the shot by launching it to an impressive 11.07m, which puts her into the top 25 of the UK rankings.