Jethro strikes gold!

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BELPER’S Jethro McGraw played a starring role recently after emulating the likes of Olympic medalists Kelly Sotherton and Mark Lewis-Francis by scooping gold at the Aviva Athletics Academy Sportshall Finals in Birmingham.

The 14-year-old along with team-mate Jordan Ofield ran 1:29.7 to win the U15 boys 8-lap paarlauf at the flagship junior athletics development event of the year.

McGraw – who attends Belper School – also finished sixth in the four-lap race, eighth in the shot, and 28th in the standing long jump to finish 23rd overall in the individual competition.

And after writing his name into the Sportshall history books alongside the likes of Sotherton and Lewis-Francis – who tasted success in 1992 and 1998 respectively – McGraw was left grinning from ear to ear after his day’s work.

“It was really amazing and I am so happy that we I came away with the gold medal because we were waiting for an age to get into the race and I was getting a bit nervous,” said McGraw – who is a Amber Valley & Erewash Athletic Club member.

“We didn’t know how well we would do because there were obviously a lot of good sportsmen and as it was a time trial no one knew who had won so it was quite nerve racking.

“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 McGraw’s efforts at the LG Arena didn’t 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 McGraw is well placed for a bright future.

“It is nice to see young athletes like Jethro 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.”

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