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Two National Titles for Holly

Andover AC’s talented U17 athlete Holly Mills secured two National Titles at the recent England Athletics U17 Age Group Championships held at the Bedford International Stadium.

Ranked No.1 in the UK in the U17W Long Jump, Holly went into the competition with high hopes of following up her success at these Championships last year when she won the U15 Title. However, she also knew that there would be tough competition from Eleanor Broome who beat her at this year’s English Schools Championships.Click for Options

This proved to be the case as in one of the best Long Jump competitions that Holly has competed in this year the lead change hands several times. Holly opened with a solid 5.86m jump to which Broome responded with 5.92m to take the lead. Holly regained the lead with her second round jump of 5.94m, but in the third round she saw Broome retake the lead with a jump of 5.99m after a 5.91m jump from Holly. With neither girl able to improve in the fourth round the title would be decided with the last two jumps. Holly took the initiative with a jump of 6.07m whilst Broome recorded another 5.99m leap. Holly then went and improved her lead in the final round with 6.14m which Broome was unable to better. So in her first year in the age group Holly won the Gold Medal with the year older Broome taking Silver.

On Day 2 of the Championships Holly was in action in the 80mH and went into the event hoping to win a medal. Again there was stiff competition with all the top ranked athletes competing. Holly won her heat in 11.61s which was the 3rd best time from all the heats. She then went an improved this time in winning her semi final in 11.51s which again was the 3rd fastest time posted. In the final Holly was up against Sophie Elliss who beat her at the recent South of England Championships plus the English Schools Champion, Isabel Wakefield. In a close run final three girls crossed the line together and a photo finish frame Click for Optionswas required to separate the athletes. Holly coming out on top in a time of 11.32s, just 1/100th ahead of Amber-Leigh Hall with Sophie Elliss in third in 11.37s.

Also competing at the Championships were two members of Andover’s talented throws squad. U15 athlete Tom Hewson was competing in his first National Championships having finished 2nd earlier in the season at the English Schools Championships. Tom went into the competition in confident mood and targeting a first national medal. He certainly didn’t disappoint, producing a series of solid throws with a massive PB throw of 52.26m over 3m further than his previous best. This throw secured the Silver medal behind the winning throw of 53.96m from the English Schools Champion Max Law.

Kai Mumford was also in action in the U17M Hammer competition. Being in his first year in the age group he was up against top competition but performed well to produce a best throw of 51.52m to finish in 11th place.

The following week Holly Mills was back in action at the Sainsbury’s UK School Games held at Sportcity in Manchester. This event brings together the top athletes from 5 regions across England plus athletes from Scotland and Northern Ireland and Holly was selected to represent Team England South West Region in the Long Jump. In cool and breezy conditions she produced a solid series of jumps to win the Gold medal with a best of 5.95m

This was a great end to what has been a long but hugely successful season for Holly. Despite being in the first year in the age group, she has claimed both the Indoor and Outdoor National Titles, Indoor and Outdoor South of England Titles, UK School Games Title and 2nd place at the English Schools Championships. Still only 15, as well as being ranked No.1 in the UK for U17W and 8th out of all female Long Jump athletes in the UK, Holly  is also ranked 5th in the World in the U18 Youth age group with a best jump this season of 6.29m. Holly is now looking ahead to 2016 with her main target being a place in the Team GB Squad that will contest the inaugural European Youth Championships in Tbilisi next July.

Holly has received a massive boost to her athletics career, thanks to a half a million pounds package promised by a Newbury company. Long Jump fan and former national schoolboy long jumper, Bob Rae, the managing director of BDZ Holdings is in the process of forming a package to support the athletic aspirations of Holly.

Mr Rae said: ‘I have kept track of Holly’s achievements over the past three years and we think she is a rare talent – we are proud to support her to achieve her goal of a medal at hopefully the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. We have offered Holly a sponsorship package over the next five years which could be worth £500,000 to help her develop and compete internationally.’

Holly said: ‘This sponsorship deal will be a massive help to me as this will help towards the cost of travel and accommodation at major events plus my clothing and equipment costs. Without this support I would probably not be able to compete at the level I hope to over the next few years.’