The hottest young athletes from around Portsmouth will be keen to keep their cool at the English Schools’ Track & Field Championships this weekend.
The biggest event in junior athletics takes place in Gateshead over the next two days, with hopes high for some local medal magic.
Up to nine athletes from the area will travel to compete in the championships for Hampshire and Sussex after gaining the high qualification standards set out by the English Schools’ Athletic Association.
Havant AC’s Leslie Parkes will compete in the junior boys’ 100m after his victory in the Hampshire Schools’ Championships, while City of Portsmouth’s Michael Muckelt will take part in the intermediate boys’ javelin fresh from his triumph in the county’s javelin championships in Jersey.
For the girls, Devon Brimecome (Havant AC) will compete in the junior section, with Portsmouth-born Emily Jenkinson (Southampton AC) taking part in the Intermediate girls’ 300m event.
Meanwhile, Jess Chen and Emma Gilmore (both City of Portsmouth) will appear in the senior girls’ category.
Chen will compete in the 3,000m before travelling to Wigan to compete for her club in the UK Women’s League on Sunday, while Gilmore will contest the 800m race.
Sussex’s Kerri-Ann Body will join Chen in making the dash to Wigan as she too competes for City’s ladies’ team.
However, her county team-mates, Natalie Gooden and Katie Hardcastle (both Chichester AC) who both train at the Mountbatten Centre, will have no such concerns, leaving them free to concentrate on their Schools’ competitions.
The duo both train under the guidance of City coach Dave Churcher.
But without wanting to put pressure on his own athletes, he’s tipping Gilmore and Brimecome as two to shine in the heat of battle at Gateshead.
‘Emma Gilmore is in with a chance,’ he said.
‘If she puts it together on the day then she’s definitely got a chance.
‘She’ll be looking to try to get a personal best and hopefully she can.
‘Devon can also do very well.
‘She’s a very good young competitor.’
Fellow City coach Pat Butcher believes this year’s class has the strength and depth to excel in Gateshead.
However, she singled out Chen and Muckelt to deliver the goods.
‘Jess is running exceptionally well,’ said Butcher.
‘When she’s got confidence she’s tends to run really well, she’s one of those sort of people.
‘Michael is also doing really well at the moment.
‘He gave a Championship-best performance in the counties earlier in the year and, despite being a bit of a newcomer, he’s doing very well.
‘But fingers crossed for all of them.’