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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Alex jumps to his challenge

ALTHOUGH a year younger than the competition, a Prudhoe High School pupil has overcome the obstacles in his way to qualify for the national athletics championships.

Alex Roney qualified for English championships with a personal best performance.

Alex Roney (15), of Stocksfield, recorded the fourth fastest time in the U17 60m hurdles in the Northern Athletics Indoor Championships and will represent his club, Gateshead Harriers, in the England age group champs in Sheffield in March.

Needing under nine seconds to book his place, Alex had qualification in the bag after his heat when he crossed the line in 8.94 seconds.

But he created a new personal best – his previous top time was 9.09 – in the final with a fantastic 8.78 in a tight race where second, third and fourth was separated by just 0.16 seconds.

Alex said: “I went into the Northerns not expecting to medal, nor get to the final really, because I was at the bottom of the age category with the rest in Year 11.

“I lined up against Miles McGrady who is a giant and an England international, and it was quite daunting but I came out strong and got two PBs on the day.

“It feels great to be going to the nationals as I have put a lot of work into training and I haven’t missed a rep for three months, so I was chuffed to get under nine seconds.

“I’m currently ranked 14th in the UK so I am going to head my head down and train hard before the English Championships, looking to get my time down and my rank down.”

Alex will head to Sheffield looking to learn a lot from the experience of appearing at the nationals – but he is not expecting to challenge for medals. Instead, a podium finish is in his sights for 2015.

He said: “I’ll put a lot of hard work into this year with warm weather training and training camps, and next year I will hopefully be able to medal at U17. Even if I medalled at next year’s Northerns, I would be chuffed with that.

“You have got to take it one step at a time, but a medal at the English Championships and then, one day, a place in the Great Britain squad is the dream.”

Alex has only been involved in athletics for 18 months after his teacher at Ovingham Middle School, Deborah Godwin, recommended he should take up the sport.

A member of Stocksfield Cricket Club at the time, he was a promising cricketer and opened the bowling for Northumberland.

But he made the decision to switch to hurdles, and the move is paying dividends and his future in the sport looks bright.

“It was a difficult decision as I was in the Northumberland squad, but I gave up cricket and went to Gateshead Harriers.”