DEVON BRIMECOME and Josie Czura were the star Hampshire performers at the English Schools’ Track & Field Championships.
Sixteen-year-old Brimecome won silver in a photo finish in the 300m intermediate girls’ hurdles while Czura, 13, produced a superb performance to come second in the junior girls’ 1500m in her first appearance at the prestigious competition.
Even more significantly, Brimecome’s performance was good enough to earn her an England vest for the Schools’ International Track & Field Championships in Cardiff this weekend.
The former Havant runner, who now competes for Basingstoke, will be up against the best under-17 runners from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the Welsh capital.
Paulsgrove-based Brimecome said: ‘It was a great race and I really enjoyed it.
‘I couldn’t have given any more than I did.’
The Oaklands Catholic School, Waterlooville, pupil confessed she was nervous ahead of the final but focused on her strengths to finish second in a time of 43.31sec.
Competing at her fourth English Schools’ Championships, it was her last chance to qualify for the current England team – and she grabbed it with both hands.
‘I knew that my strongest part was the finish but I needed to get a fast start and have a good bend to be in contention,’ she said.
‘Coming off the bend, I was fourth and I could see everyone else was tiring.
‘I wanted it so bad, I just kept pushing until the very end because I could see it was between me and the other girl.’
Brimecome almost caught up the eventual winner, Michelle Hughes (43.25), on the line and faced a nerve-racking wait at the end.
‘It was a photo finish so it took a few minutes to decide the winner,’ she said.
‘I knew I needed to come in the top two to represent England.
‘When I found out, I just jumped on top of the winning girl, both of us were so happy.’
She added: ‘I would like to medal in Cardiff because I know the girl from Scotland who is number one, and our times are now identical, so I know I can catch her.
‘That would be amazing but I’m just so pleased to be able to represent England.’
Meanwhile Czura exceeded all expectations by taking home a silver in the junior 1500m, after clocking a time of 4.35.98.
She actually finished third but the winner – UK number one and favourite Katy-Ann McDonald – was disqualified for impeding an opponent, so Czura moved up a position.
Her City of Portsmouth coach, Vince Stamp, said: ‘Josie performed brilliantly. You can’t ask any more from a young girl competing for the first time in the bottom year.
‘Josie was ecstatic with the bronze but even more so when she was upgraded to the silver.’
Other local athletes competing in the event, were Katya Oldfield, who finished fifth in the high jump (7m 71cm). City of Portsmouth team-mate Gaia Osborne came 12th in the shot put (10.64). Meanwhile Millie Cavanagh placed fifth in the javelin (40.65)