The next generation of track & field talents will descend on Gateshead tomorrow for the start of the English Schools’ Championships.
A strong contingent of athletes from the Portsmouth area schools have been selected for the Hampshire team.
It’s one of the toughest county squads to get in, with more than 100 athletes achieving national standards and only 60 spots for the team.
That means all the athletes who are picked are of great pedigree and should go well in the highly-prestigious event labelled as the ‘Mini Olympics’.
City of Portsmouth duo Lachlan Wellington and Josie Czura will get the competition under way tomorrow in the heats of the 1,500m for the junior age group.
Havant’s Tom Miller lines up in the intermediate 100m hurdles, Tom Farres, from City, is in the senior pole vault, and Leslie Parkes, from Havant, competes in the senior hammer.
Gaia Osborne has had an excellent summer so far and competes in the intermediate javelin.
Her City club-mates Heather Cubbage (junior discus), Serena Vincent (junior shot) and Robert Pattison (junior discus) will also be in action.
Sisters Maisie Grice and Evie Grice, who are from Portsmouth and compete for Aldershot, Farnham & District, will also be in action.
City of Portsmouth coach Paul Farres is looking forward to what will be an exciting two days of competition tomorrow and Saturday.
He said: ‘For junior athletes this is the climax of the season.
‘It’s going to be good. Many of them should get through to the final.
‘There is a lot of excitement. It is a huge event.
‘They call it the Mini Olympics. I think they have more track events in two days than any other event in the world.
‘Our athletes will be travelling up today and staying at Durham University overnight.
‘They will get a coach to the stadium from there in the morning.
‘There are some phenomenal athletes competing and hopefully, if things go well, we can bring back some medals.’
Osborne’s brilliant displays in the throwing events will mark her out as one to watch.
Miller has been hurdling superbly, while Tom Farres and Parkes are both ranked highly in their respective events.
Wellington and Czura have so much talent and have trained well ahead of the event.
City coach Vince Stamp is hoping they can put it all together on the day.
He said: ‘They are both really looking forward to it.
‘They have trained really well and need to believe in what they can do.
‘Josie has not been 100-per-cent healthy – she’s had some illness but she is getting better each day.
‘Having Lachlan there will help her. They will warm up together and Lachlan is such a positive athlete.
‘We hope everything goes to plan, they will have tried several different scenarios in training.
‘Hopefully that will give them the confidence.’
The racing starts at 10am tomorrow with the junior boys’ 1,500m and concludes on Saturday evening with the finals of the 4x100m relays.