WALLSEND’S Olivia Brough played a starring role last weekend after emulating the likes of Olympic medallists Kelly Sotherton and Mark Lewis-Francis by scooping gold at the Aviva Athletics Academy Sportshall Finals in Birmingham.
The 15-year-old finished in a dead heat for first with two other girls in the U15 two-lap race at the flagship junior athletics development event of the year.
Brough – who attends King’s School in Tynemouth – also took part in the shot put and the vertical jump competitions but failed to add to her medal haul.
And after writing her name into the Sportshall history books alongside the likes of Sotherton and Lewis-Francis – who tasted success in 1992 and 1998 respectively – Brough was left grinning from ear to ear after her days work.
“I am really happy to get a gold in this event. I thought I had won it overall but they said it was a dead heat, but it’s still a gold and I am happy,” said Brough – who also competes for the City of Newcastle Gymnastics Academy.
“I always enjoy competing in front of large crowds and it was great hearing them cheering. My overall aim is to run in the 200meters in the Olympics one day so obviously these are always big occasions for me to improve my confidence.
“It’s great fun to be part of a team and one day I hope to be part of the Aviva GB & NI Team as a professional athlete.”
The national Sportshall final in Birmingham is part of the Aviva Athletics Academy which encourages and enables children to get involved in athletics.
And Brough’s efforts at the LG Arena did not go unnoticed with current Aviva GB & NI Team high jumper Robbie Grabarz there to cheer on the competitors.
Top athletes like Jess Ennis started their career at Aviva Athletics Academy schemes and Grabarz – who came sixth at the World Indoor Championships in March – believes Brough is well placed for a bright future.
“It is nice to see young athletes like Olivia having fun, enjoying athletics and that is how it should be really,” Grabarz said.
“I used to do Sportshall as a kid so it’s great to get the opportunity to come back and hopefully inspire a few kids in the same way that I was when I was younger.
“Seeing the boards up against the walls and things like the standing vertical jump bring all the memories flooding back for me.
“There have been some outstanding performances from what I have seen and the future of British athletics looks to be in good hands.
“There are so many kids here all taking part and challenging for a medal and in the year that we host the Olympics it’s just great to see and hopefully the next Jess Ennis is in there somewhere.”
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