Over the past few weeks Andover AC’s talented U15 athlete, Holly Mills, has been in Championship action at both Regional and National Levels.
At the South of England Championships held at the iconic Crystal Palace International Stadium she won the U15 Long Jump Title and followed this by winning the England Athletics National U15 Long Jump Title at the UK Championships held at Bedford International Stadium.
This is the culmination of a fantastic season for Holly who has remained unbeaten in the Long Jump in all competitions this year. She has also achieved the Triple Crown of winning the England Athletics National Indoor and Outdoor Titles plus the prestigious English Schools Title and to make it a Grand Slam of Titles winning both the South of England Indoor and Outdoor Titles.
At the South of England Championships in blustery conditions Holly was not at the top of her game but still put together a good series of jumps all in excess of 5.30m to win the title with a best jump of 5.50m.
Holly also took to the track at these championships, competing in the 200m. After winning her heat in a time of 26.53secs, she was drawn in the first semi-final against the UK No2 athlete. This spurred Holly on as she produced a fine run to finish 2nd in a time of 26.12secs to qualify for the final. The final line up consisted of 6 girls ranked in the top 10 in the UK so Holly knew she would have to perform at her best to get a medal. Putting in a great start and strong first 75m Holly was in the leading trio coming into the straight, however, her exploits in the Long Jump earlier in the day plus 2 quick earlier races took its toll and Holly faded in the straight to finish in a creditable 5th position in a time of 26.10secs, just 0.40secs off of 3rd place.
At the UK Championships Holly knew that this was going to be a tough competition as amongst the field of 26 athletes she was renewing rivalry with the Midlands Champion Josie Oliarnyk, ranked No.2 in the UK behind Holly and who had finished 2nd to Holly at both the National Indoor Championships and English Schools Championships.
Holly was in the second half of the field to jump with Josie one of the first to jump and she immediately put the pressure on Holly by producing a new PB jump of 5.63m. However, in good jumping conditions Holly responded to this by producing a jump of 5.76m equalling her own current PB. Both girls produced further solid jumps in the next 2 rounds and at the halfway point when the top 8 girls progressed for a further 3 jumps Holly led the competition with her first round jump.
In the final 3 rounds Josie was unable to improve on her best jump and with Holly producing jumps of 5.53m, 5.66m and 5.76m, Holly was crowned National Champion with Josie again the Silver medallist.
Holly was also in action on the track at the Championships in the 75m Hurdles. A fine run in her heat saw Holly finish 3rd in a time of 11.42secs to progress to the semi-finals. Faced with several opponents ranked above her in the UK Holly knew she would have to be at her best to make the final. Holly ran another solid race to finish in 4th place in 11.41secs. This was good enough to secure a place in the final as a fastest loser.
The final line-up consisted of 6 girls who had run faster times on the day and were also ranked above Holly in the UK but again the level of competition spurred Holly on as she produced another fine run to take 4th place in a time of 11.40secs.
This was a fitting end to a day where Holly achieved what she had set out to do in winning the Long Jump Title and finishing the season unbeaten. Holly would like to thank her coach, James Coney, for all the support and guidance he has provided over the past few years and she can now look forward to new challenges as she moves up an age group to U17 level.
Find out more about Andover Athletic Club at www.andover-athletic.co.uk