LACHLAN WELLINGTON will go up against his big rival Zak Mahamed in one of the eye-catching battles of the Hampshire Cross Country Championships today.
City of Portsmouth athlete Wellington, 15, and Southampton’s Mahamed have been trading blows already this season.
In the Hampshire League they are tied at one win each.
The talented duo, who are good friends, will both have their sights set on national glory this winter.
But the county championships today at Fairthorne Manor will give them a good chance to strike an early blow in the race for titles.
City will be gunning for glory in the team race as well with Wellington joined by the impressive Jacob O’Hara in the under-17 age group.
Harry Moore, Adam Kimber and Steven Cross are also in good form.
There’s a star-studded squad of girls representing Portsmouth, including reigning county champion Saffron Moore and 2016 national champion Nicole Ainsworth, with both stepping up to the under-15 age group.
City of Portsmouth coach Vince Stamp has set bigger national targets for his athletes but is confident of good results today.
He said: ‘We won’t be easing up on training for these championships because our main targets are the nationals, the English Schools and the Inter-Counties.
‘But we will be hoping to be in the mix for team and individual medals.’
As well as Ainsworth and Moore, the under-15 girls’ group also includes Ellie Farrow, who has been in superb form, while Bo Sansom and Mia Billins have represented the county.
Matilda Atkins and Penelope Batty are also running very well.
The under-13 girls’ squad could spring some surprises in the race for individual and team medals.
Exciting talents Olivia East, Eloise O’Neill, Isabelle Brydon, Natalya Smith, Hattie Locke and Jamima Batty are all promising runners.
The under-17 women will aim to rival Aldershot, Farnham & District in the team race with Anya Pigden, Eleanor Purdue, Elizabeth Hedley and Katie Simister in the mix.
Callum Crook and Josh Goldfinch will hope to lead the under-15 boys’ challenge, while Josh Fawcett and Cameron Walker Powell have done well in the under-13 league races.
In the senior race former City athlete Alex Teuten will bid to improve on his second place from 2016.
Meanwhile the under-15 and under-17 South-East indoor championships take place today and tomorrow at Lee Valley in London.
Among the athletes competing for City will be Hollie Thurgood in the hurdles, George Rosam in the long jump, Ella-May Sprake and Sophie Brame in the 60m and 200m, and Sophie Laughton in the under-17 long jump.