PGS finalists follow tracks of Mo & Co

Portsmouth Grammar School's junior and intermediate girls' athletics teams who will compete in Gateshead this weekend
Portsmouth Grammar School's junior and intermediate girls' athletics teams who will compete in Gateshead this weekend
Fareham parkrun takes place every Saturday at 9am. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Winter Olympics gold medal winner at Fareham parkrun

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Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) follow in the footsteps of Great Britain’s Olympic heroes tomorrow.

The city school send two teams into the final of the English Schools’ Track & Field Cup at Gateshead International Stadium.

That’s days after the continent’s finest competed at the same stadium at the European Team Championships.

Now Grammar’s junior (year seven and eight) and intermediate (year nine and 10) girls will step out at the same venue as Olympic stars like Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Perri Shakes-Drayton.

PGS’s junior team showed huge resolve to earn their place in the national final.

The team qualified by just two points – the tiniest of margins in such a competition.

The intermediate squad, meanwhile, proved their class to make the final with the second-highest score nationally in the regional qualifying round.

Now they will be aiming to go one step further when they take on the nation’s best up-and-coming talent in the north east.

PGS director of sport, Chris Dossett, believes the girls can use competing in the same venue as the stars of the London Games last year as inspiration.

He said: ‘It’s at the Gateshead International Stadium where the European Team Championships were held last weekend.

‘On Saturday, Mo Farah and Perri Shakes-Drayton were competing at the same venue. That really is something.

‘We’ve had a team in the final for the past few years, but it’s the first time we’ve had two since 2009.

‘Our inter girls have finished with the second-highest score in the country. They finished second two years ago.

‘We won it in 2006 in the inter girls, so we’ve done well in the past – but to get two girls there is a real achievement.

‘The junior girls have really over-performed and did brilliantly in the regional final with a lot of school records and personal bests.

‘A couple of girls really pulled it out of the bag and exceeded expectations.

‘We qualified by two points, which, in context, is 0.2sec in the 100m or 20cm in the long jump.

‘So it was those girls who over-performed and sprinted the last of the 1,500m or improved their discus personal best who got us there.

‘It was a real team effort and they all peaked on the day.

‘Maybe the inter girls have the aspirations set slightly higher.

‘Two years ago they came second with the highest-ever score in the competition. It just so happened one school scored more that day as well.

‘So they would love to go one better this time, but there is fantastic competition there.

‘It’s a day for the girls to remember, so they now have to go there and do their best.’

Year seven student Isabel Herbert (1,500m) and year nine’s Abby Moss (200m) have set new school records on the way to the finals.

And the likes of Iman Alayyan (junior girls’ javelin), Ashleigh Dekker (inter girls’ discus) and Ciara Dossett (inter girls’ 100m) have all shown resolve to get their teams to the final.

Dossett believes the teams’ successes are purely down to hard work.

He said: ‘There were days when we were training at the Mountbatten Centre in the middle of winter with the rain hosing it down.

‘Not one of the girls batted an eyelid, and it’s that commitment which may well have made the difference.’