Pupils lace up trainers for schools sprint contest

SCORES of children stepped into the shoes of professional athletes for a day as part of an inter-schools competition.

Pupils from across the Portsmouth area competed in the Great School Sprints, a 60m competition to find the area’s fastest youngsters.

Last year's Great South Run winner Chris Thompson and Radzi Chinyanganya with all the children participating in the event. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The male and female winners will go on to compete in a national final at the GreatCity Games in Manchester in 2018.

Among the pupils taking part was 11-year-old Olivia Maycrisp, from Admiral Lord Nelson School in Portsmouth.

She said: ‘It’s been very good, but a bit hard. I’ve been running with my dad before.’

Classmate Kade Rodgers, 11, said: ‘I came third in my heat. It was really fun.’

Keeping an eye over the competition was Chris Thompson, last year’s Great South Run winner and a former European silver medalist in the 10,000m.

He told the children how he had taken up running at school after being encouraged by his teachers, and about competing in the London 2012 Olympics.

Speaking to The News, he said: ‘For me, even now when things get tough I look back to when I first got into running and you remember that excitement and enjoyment you felt.

‘When I started out I didn’t think “I want to be an Olympian”, but I wanted to make the most out of what I was doing.’

Topping the boy’s category was Jakey Wood from Portsmouth Grammar School, who finished his final in 6.81 seconds.

Ava Griggs, of Springfield School in Drayton, won the girl’s final in 7.31 seconds.

Yesterday also saw the official media launch for Sunday’s Great South Run, featuring Claire Lomas, who was paralysed from the chest down after a riding accident in 2007.

She is aiming to complete the 10-mile course in 24 hours while wearing a bionic suit.

She said: ‘I’ve got a brilliant support team and I couldn’t do it without them.’

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