Mature run wins Bankes gold
ROOKIE Holly Bankes produced a superb performance to win gold at the Midland Counties Championships.
The 13-year-old Stroud & District AC 800m runner was competing in the Under-15s race for the first time but Bankes showed she is not afraid of her older rivals with a mature run that earned her victory in a time of two minutes 22.67 seconds.
Coach Chris Brown said: "It is Holly's first year in the age group and she won as comfortably as she could have in very windy conditions at the Alexander Stadium.
"She has had a very good season and show great improvement."
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Indeed at the start of the summer, Bankes' personal best at 800m was 2:23.7 and she smashed that with 2:16.6 which put her top of the South West Rankings and 17th in the UK.
Bankes wasn't the only Stroud medal winner from Brown's training group at the two-day meeting in the Midlands.
In only his first full track season, Tom Mortimer again underlined his potential with a silver medal in the Under-15 3000m, clocking a time of 9:32.86 which carved eight seconds off the 14-year-old's best
"Tom took it on with four laps to go and built up a reasonable lead but was just caught on the line." added Brown.
"But I am really chuffed for him and to put that run in perspective it is quicker than Tom Curr was running at that age!"
A third medal on the track came from the consistent Grace Knapp as the 13-year-old upset the odds to grab a bronze in the Under-15 1500m.
Brown added: "Grace had the slowest personal best going into that race but ran really well tactically to finish third and only just missed her best time."
A fourth Stroud medal came in the Under-15 girls high jump with 13-year-old county and South West Schools champion, Natasha Smith clearing 1.55m for third place.
The Stroud successes were among 14 medals won by county athletes which included three further golds for Gloucester AC sprinter Kelly Constable in the Under-17 100m, plus a silver in the 200m, clubmate Ellen Thrall in the Under-17 hammer and finally Cheltenham's Melissa Bird in the Under-15 discus.
Midland Counties Track & Field Under-17/15 Championships, Birmingham -C=Cheltenham & County Harriers; G=Gloucester AC; S=Stroud & District AC; Sev=Severn AC.
Under 17 women 100 (-2.6w): 1 Kelly Constable (G) 13.00 (hts 12.82); 8 Stephanie Beardsmore (C ) 13.65 (hts 13.30);
200: 2 Constable 25.39; 4 Dayna Willoughby (G) 25.59; hts: 7 Beardsmore 27.68; 300: 2 Dayna Willoughby (G) 40.73;
SP: 2 Lauren Richards (Sev) 9.61; HT: 1 Ellen Thrall (G) 36.60.
Under-15 girls – 100 (-2.7w): 1 Alex Beardmore (Halesowen) 12.91; 2 Yvette Westwood (Y) 13.20 (hts 12.84); ht 3 (-2.5w): 6 Georgia Wray (C ) 14.45; 200 (0.0w): 1 Beardmore 25.94; 2 Westwood 26.06; 800: 1 Holly Bankes (S) 2:22.67; 1500: 3 Grace Knapp (S) 5:05.82; LJ: 10 Georgia Wray (C ) 4.32; PV: 2 Wray 2.40; HJ: 2 Natasha Smith (S) 1.55;
DT: 1 Melissa Bird (C ) 30.14; SP: 2 Bird 9.84; HT: 2 Bird 32.10.
Under 15 boys – 3000: 2 Tom Mortimer (S) 9:32.86.