Record-breaker Czura cruises to Hampshire glory

Josie Czura, centre, with City of Portsmouth team-mates Maisie Grice and Elizabeth Hedley
Josie Czura, centre, with City of Portsmouth team-mates Maisie Grice and Elizabeth Hedley
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Rising-star Josie Czura underlined her true potential with a record-breaking performance at the Hampshire Track & Field Championships.

The City of Portsmouth starlet smashed the championships’ 13-year-old record for the under-13 girls’ 1,500m with the stand-out performance of the two-day meet at the Mountbatten Centre.

The 12-year-old took a huge chunk out of Hannah Jones’ record of 5min 0.12sec, set in 2000, to rewrite the history books with a mouthwatering time of 4.53.47.

It was 22 seconds faster than nearest-rival Tayla Wegg from Basingstoke (5.15.80).

The championship-best performance also propelled Czura to the top of the UK rankings for her age group in the 1,500m.

Coach Gerry North has looked on in amazement in 2013 as he’s witnessed the starlet excel in the heat of competition.

Czura’s achievements since the turn of the year include Hampshire Cross Country Championships glory, a podium finish at the Southern Championships, a top-five spot at the Inter-Counties, and a sixth-place display at the prestigious Virgin London Mini-Marathon.

However, the youngster’s latest run-out in Portsmouth is the one that stands out the most for the in-awe North.

‘The star of the second day of the championships was Josie,’ said North.

‘The next girl was 22 seconds behind her in that 1,500m race.

‘She just went from the gun and was away – it was just incredible. I’ve seen it coming.

‘Josie has done a couple of sessions with Karrie Blake, who’s our star 800m girl, and Karrie was amazed that a 12-year-old could keep up with her on a training session.

‘I spoke to top coaches in London on Monday and they were also amazed with what she’d done.’

North recognises the enormous potential Czura boasts at such a young age.

He believes the possibilities are endless for the City athlete.

However, North also recognises importance of managing his young prodigy in the best possible way in the years to come.

‘You have to be careful,’ admitted North.

‘I’ve seen it in all my years of running, and it happens so often.

‘There have been so many good 12-13-year-olds but then they get to 18 and 19 and where have they gone?

‘Lucky, Josie’s got a very keen mum and dad. Her mum used to do a bit of running, too, and if you’ve got supportive parents behind you that makes a lot of difference.

‘And I don’t think she’s the type of girl who would take up going out clubbing or things like that – but you never know!

‘I’m very proud, however. So is Josie and so is her mum.’

Czura wasn’t the only one from North’s ranks to impress at the event – one of the few county championships in the country to be held over two days.

Lauren McCarthy enhanced her ever-growing reputation even further by posting a new personal best of 10.52.1 when claiming silver in the under-17 women’s 3,000m.

Meanwhile, Eleanor Mills also recorded a PB of 44.08 to finish fifth in the under-17 women’s 300m.

She finished behind Portsmouth team-mate Emily Finch (42.95) and former City ace Evie Grice (43.78) as they claimed second and third places respectively after PBs of their own.

‘Lauren ran a good race, though just got pipped to first place,’ said North.

‘She was running against Lucy Rochford from Andover, who was faster on paper.

‘But Lauren stuck with her and they came down the straight ding-donging.

‘The other girl just pipped her to it, though.’