Thompson seals silver medal and England call-up

Emily Thompson on her way to taking the silver medal in the 800m at Gateshead. Photo: Felicity Dawes
Emily Thompson on her way to taking the silver medal in the 800m at Gateshead. Photo: Felicity Dawes

Emily Thompson ran the race of her life to take the silver medal in the 800m of the English Schools’ Track and Field Championships in Gateshead on Sunday.

Her late surge and dip on the line took her past Katie-Ann McDonald of London, a UK and European record-holder at 800m in recent years, to take second place behind Khahisa Mhlanga of Essex.

In doing so, Thompson earned her first call-up to represent England in this weekend’s international fixture against Scotland, Ireland and Wales at Ashford.

The 86th English Schools event brought together over 1700 of England’s best athletes to represent every county in England over two days of competition.

In Friday’s heat Thompson ran a controlled and composed race to win comfortably in a time of two minutes 14 seconds. But Saturday’s final was altogether different with rivals Mhlanga and McDonald both in the top ten fastest under-17 athletes in Europe this year over 800m.

The first lap was an extremely quick 61 seconds with Emma Alderson of Merseyside setting the pace. Thompson kept on her shoulder and eased past her with 300m to go, pushing the pace on down the back straight.

Mhlanga and Crook, of Lancashire, overtook Thompson on the final bend. Mhlanga continued to go away from the rest of the field to claim the win. As Thompson surged back past Crook with 100m to go, so McDonald of London put in her own burst of speed to take up second position.

But Thompson was not to be denied and as the athletes approached the finish line she put in an extraordinary burst and last-gasp dip to beat McDonald by just six 100ths of a second, in a season’s best time of 2:09.40.

Read more in this week’s Banbury Guardian.