Andover AC boasted a new national champion, double medal haul and probably its largest contingent ever at this year’s English School’s Championships at Birmingham’s Alexandra Stadium with six athletes representing their respective counties.
Junior Holly Mills took gold in the long jump to earn the highly coveted title of national champion and Junior Kai Mumford took silver in the hammer.
Recognised as the fourth largest athletics event in the world, the championships’ bring together the best young athletes in England. The route is not an easy one, having to qualify through district and county championships, and meeting the exacting criteria set by the ESAA.
For Mills this was her second championships having finished fifth last year and she went into the event as one of the favourites ranked number one in the UK and unbeaten this year. However, this was her toughest competition of the year with 20 of the best long jumpers in England taking part and a large crowd was attracted to the event.
She was fifth to jump and immediately followed by the girl ranked number two in the UK, Josie Oliarnyk and started with a solid 5.42m but Oliarnyk produced a new PB of 5.52m to take the lead.
Jumps of 5.49m and 5.41m saw Mills lie second at the halfway point where the top eight girls progressed to three further jumps.
Mills tends to improve as the longer format competitions progress and in the fourth round she recorded another fine jump of 5.51m, just 1cm down on Oliarnyk’s lead.
This spurred her on and a new PB of 5.72m in round five took her into the lead. Buoyed by this her confidence was high and in round six she pulled out another great jump of 5.76m to improve her PB and increase her lead.
With neither Oliarnyk nor the remaining girls unable to improve Mills took gold and the prestigious title of National Champion, reinforcing her number one ranking in the UK.
This is the result of the dedication and commitment Holly has for the sport and also the support and guidance she receives from her coach, James Coney.