Winning medals at a national championships is no easy task in athletics.
So when 14-year-old Niamh Emerson, of Amber Valley and Erewash Athletics Club, wins not one, but two of the coveted medals this is something of a rarity.
The England Athletics Indoor U15, U17 and U20 Track and Field Championships attracts the very best of the up and coming stars, with tough entry standards to reach even before setting foot in this year’s venue, the EIS in Sheffield.
Niamh, trained and coached at Amber Valley and Erewash AC, had a stellar season last year as an U15, taking medals in regional and national championships. Now, in her first outings in the next age group, U17s, she is competing against girls at least a year older than herself, yet here she won a silver and a bronze.
Her specialist event is the 800m and on day one she contested a straight final in this event. Opting for the more cautious tactic of staying in the leading pack rather than her usual front running style, she was able to gauge the pace and tactics of those around her.
She was part of a breakaway pack of four girls who began to wind up the pace on lap three and she fought to keep in contention. In the closing stages, she was unable to keep with the eventual winner but finished strongly in the bronze medal position.
Niamh returned to Sheffield the following day for the U17 womens high jump. By the time the five remaining athletes from a starting line-up of eight attempted 1.64m only one athlete, the eventual winner, cleared the height.
With four athletes, including Niamh going out at 1.64m, it was down to count back to establish where the silver and bronze medals would be going. Due to Niamh’s superior record of attempts, clearing all previous heights at the first time of asking, she took the silver medal.
A further medal came the way of another AVEAC athlete. Jethro McGraw is no stranger to national standard competition and clearly intended to take a medal in the U17 mens 800m. Cruising through to the final from the heats Jethro was part of the leading pack contesting the four-lap race.
On lap three, the eventual winner made a surging break for home which Jethro was unable to respond to. He bravely held on in the remainder of the race but was somewhat disappointed, by his own high standards, to finish third.
Elsewhere Emily Coope made it to the semi-final stage in both the U15 girls 60m and 200m, and Katie Rowe finished sixth in the U17 womens triple jump.