Biggleswade Athletic Club’s Leonie Brunning soared to a superb silver medal at the English Schools’ Championships - thanks to a new lifetime best that propelled her to third in the UK rankings.
Leonie, of St Thomas More School in Bedford, was in a Bedfordshire and Luton Schools vest at Alexander Stadium, competing in the Intermediate Girls (Under 17s) category.
Aged 15, so towards the lower end of the age group she was competing in, she had arrived in the Midlands on the back of a few below-par competitions, but soon put jitters behind her.
She said: “I was a bit more nervous than usual because there was qualifying rounds which is something I hadn’t done before – let alone in a competition as big as the English Schools’.”
Lining up in a field of 25 split into two qualifying pools, she found her form early and secured one of the 12 spots for the final. She said: “Once I was safely through those I was optimistic about the finals as I felt I had jumped really well.
“However, a few minutes before the competition started the officials decided the high jump beds needed to be swapped, so that was slightly off-putting.”
Still, she entered at 1.50m and has a trouble-free progress over that mark, then at 1.55m and 1.60m. “As soon as I cleared 1.69m I was buzzing and determined to clear higher so that I could medal. At this stage there were only five of us still left in.”
At the new height of 1.72m, she failed her first attempt – but second time around she was delighted to clear the bar. More was still to come, and at the third time of asking she cleared 1.75m to take the silver medal. “I ended the competition with a new PB and second place – as well as very tired legs as overall I had a total of 14 jumps!”
First-placed athlete Temi Ojora of Buckinghamshire cleared 1.75m at the first time of asking but the silver medal was secured, along with an invite to wear an England vest at the Schools International in Scotland this weekend. Leonie – who broke BAC’s club record in Birmingham – has leaped up 20 places in the British rankings in recent weeks.