Parkes makes the grade in Schools’ exam

Cowplain Community School and Havant AC athlete Leslie Parkes won sprint and hammer gold at the English Schools' Championships in Birmingham
Cowplain Community School and Havant AC athlete Leslie Parkes won sprint and hammer gold at the English Schools' Championships in Birmingham
Runners stream past HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard

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Leslie Parkes celebrated a gold rush at the English Schools’ Athletic Association Championships.

The 17-year-old Cowplain Community School pupil threw a lifetime best in the hammer (60m 19cm) to claim the intermediate boys’ title.

The multi-talented teenager then teamed up with his Hampshire Schools’ team-mates to help steer them home in first place in the 4x100m relay (42.29sec) at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.

His unique double made him one of the stand-out performers at the prestigious event, which includes Paula Radcliffe, Perri Shakes-Drayton and Mark Lewis-Francis among it’s past-winners’ roll of honour.

Parkes, however, had to work hard and dig deep to join those who boast of English Schools titles.

He was in danger of missing the cut-off in the highly-competitive hammer competition, with his throws failing to make inroads on the leaderboard and falling well short of his then PB of 59.54 from the Basingstoke & Mid Hants Young Athletes Graded Open Meet back in April.

But with a place in the final eventually secured, the Havant AC ace produced the throw of his life in round five to claim victory by a staggering 90cm.

It also propelled him to second place in the under-17 UK rankings and helped him earn special praise from his coach Malcolm Rogers.

‘We are all very proud of Leslie,’ said Rogers.

‘But at one point it looked like we wouldn’t make the final.

‘As per normal, Leslie was over-trying but when he relaxed he was able to get one out, which was a new PB.

‘He’s obviously delighted, especially given the fact that he was the smallest lad in the competition.’

Elsewhere, recently-crowned South of England champion Izzy Brown had to settle for fifth place in the senior girls’ high jump (1.69).

Michael Muckelt (52.30) finished eighth in the senior boys’ javelin, Tom Farres was 10th in the intermediate boys’ pole vault (3.65), and Sam Wellington claimed seventh spot in the junior shot (13.43).