Emily Thompson ran a new lifetime best to win the silver medal in the senior girls 800m at the English Schools’ Track and Field Championships last weekend.
Her time of 2:06.71 would have won eight of the last ten championship finals and is the sixth fastest time in Europe by an under-18 girl this year.
The Banbury Harrier was only beaten by a record-breaking run from Khahisa Mhlanga of Essex, whose time of 2:04.4 made her the fastest female 800m runner in the 87-year history of the competition.
The English Schools’ Championships, held at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium, brought together more than 1900 of England’s best athletes to represent every county over two days of competition. In recent years, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford have all competed in the championships, the most prestigious fixture in the athletics calendar for school-age athletes.
Thompson, currently studying at the Warriner School sixth form, was competing for Oxon for the fourth consecutive year but her first as a senior girl.
In the first of two 800m heats on Friday, Thompson ran a strong and measured race, easing past the leader Mollie O’Sullivan of Surrey with 200m to go and then striding to a dominant win in two minutes and nine seconds.
In Saturday’s final she once again faced O’Sullivan, as well as Mhlanga who had impressed to win her heat. Mhlanga, who will be representing Team GB in the European Junior Championships later this month, led the final from the gun but was closely tracked by a relaxed and powerful Thompson.
When Mhlanga picked up the pace and tried to go away from the field at the bell, Thompson matched her stride-for-stride and with 150m to go there was nothing between them. Only over the last 100m did Mhlanga succeed in moving away, with Thompson finishing just two seconds behind to claim the silver and O’Sullivan the bronze.
Thompson attributed her success to the team of people who have enabled her to make real progress this season.
She said: “A race like this is the culmination of 12 months’ hard work. So many people give up their time freely to help me train, get physically and mentally stronger and to ensure that I am in the best possible shape for the big events of the season.
“I’m so grateful to them all and delighted that I can repay them with a performance like this.”