North Leamington’s Jai Sipsal was crowned the national junior boys’ 800m champion after a thrilling victory in the final of the English Schools Track and Field Championships at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
In his semi-final heat on the Friday evening, Sispal had to check his speed on the final bend to avoid being boxed in and eased to the outside before powering down the home straight to win in 2min 1.4sec, the fastest time from both heats.
For Saturday’s final, Sispal sat in third place on the opening lap and gradually moved up on the leaders, taking the lead as the bell rang for the final lap. He started to wind up the pace with 300m to go and held off Aidan Lynch from Greater Manchester and Aaron Duncan of Sussex by forcing them to run wide on the last bend.
A devastating kick at the start of the home straight then allowed him to clinch gold in a new PB and Leamington C&AC record of 1:59.99.
Coach Chris Jackson was delighted with the outcome after seeing Sispal endure a difficult start to the year.
He said: “It was an outstanding and mature performance and a real tribute to his dedication after injuries and a broken arm disrupted his training at the end of the cross-country season.”
Fellow North Leamington pupil Ben Hawkes won bronze in the senior boys’ 400m, also setting a new Leamington C&AC record in the process.
A fast finish in his heat secured him first place in 48.66 and he went into the final with the fourth-fastest time following a quick second heat.
However, he defied the rankings with another powerful burst for the line, securing third place in 48.41 behind Ethan Brown (47.92) and Lyndon Olowe (48.32).
In the field events, Cameron Williams-Stein (Kenilworth School) cleared the opening height of 3.70m in the intermediate boys’ pole vault before failing at 3.90m and had to be content with fourth place.
Sophie Hunt (Myton) was well below par to finish 12th in the senior girls’ shot after recording 9.73m, while Drew Sinnott (Trinity) threw 43.96m to finish 17th in the intermediate boys’ javelin.