Rising-star Finnley Kenny admitted all his hard work paid off as he claimed first place in the Bupa Great South Run’s junior wheelchair race.
The 11-year-old from Denmead secured the title after completing the 2.5k course along the Southsea seafront in a time of 18min 07sec, with George Gray coming second in 20.26.
The Weir Archer Academy athlete had been focusing on the race for the past year.
And he was delighted his efforts paid off in front of the massive crowds who were there to cheer on the mini and junior youngsters in their Great South Run endeavours.
‘There was some very good competition and it was amazing to be in that field and to have won,’ said Portchester Community College pupil Kenny.
‘It could have been difficult but I’ve trained in the wind, so it was easier than perhaps I thought it would be.
‘I’ve been doing quite a bit of preparation – about a year’s worth.
‘I trained maybe six times a week – sometimes in London and sometimes in Denmead.
‘The Weir Archer Academy is really good fun as there’s lots of people to compete against and it’s loads of fun.
‘David Weir has told me to just keep going and I’ll get better and better and better.
‘I’m hoping one day to be in the Paralympics like him.’
On an action-packed day of racing before the main event yesterday, Lucy Wildash claimed her third junior title with victory in the girls’ 12-15 age group.
The Basingstoke & Mid-Hants AC ace stormed across the finish line in a time of 8min 37sec, taking the win ahead of Derbyshire AC’s Jasmine Cooper (8.45) and City of Portsmouth’s Elizabeth Rose (8.51).
Rose led the City challenge, with team-mates Bobbie Davies (9.05), Maisie Grice (9.13) and Anya Pigden (9.20) making up the top six.
The 14-year-old Churchers College pupil said she was ‘chuffed’ with her run.
‘I’m really happy,’ said Rose.
‘The distance is quite short for me, so I’m just chuffed I managed to do that well.’
In the girls’ nine to 11 age group, Wycombe Phoenix’s Holly Hodgskinson took the win (9.42), with Emma Leach the first City athlete home in third (9.58).
Team Bath’s Will Stockley won the 12-15 boys’ title (7.38) as he went one better than last year’s runners-up spot.
Fareham’s Luke Powell, who races for Southampton, was second (7.51).
Unattached Benjamin Brown claimed victory in the nine-11 boys’ event (9.11).
– MARK McMAHON