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Double Gold for Holly at National Indoor Champs

Holly Mills was in top form at last weekend’s England Athletics National Indoor Championships held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield with two gold medal performances in the U17 Long Jump and 60m Hurdle events.

Going into the Long Jump competition on the Saturday Holly was a clear favourite based on her performances from last year and her current indoor form from this year where her season’s best jumps were a considerable way further than any of the other competitors. Having won both the indoor and outdoor National U17 Titles last year she was therefore looking to defend her title plus looking to enhance her growing reputation as one of the UK’s best Long Jump athletes, not only in her U17 age group but amongst all women Long Jump athletes.

Holly set out her intentions from round one with an impressive leap and new indoor PB of 6.13m.  However, while that was strong enough for gold it ended up being only her third longest leap of the day as she extended her lead with a fifth round jump of 6.22m – the second longest ever indoor by a British Under 17, second only to Margaret Cheetham’s 6.25 in 1985. In the sixth and final round she added a 6.16m leap to end an impressive series of jumps. These 6m plus jumps also achieved the required qualifying standard for Holly’s season goal of a place in the Team GB squad at the European Youth Championships in July and she will now look to build on these indoor performances in the early part of her summer schedule.

Day two saw Holly in action in the 60m Hurdles and again she was one of the favourites having set the fastest times in the indoor season so far this year. She cruised through the heats in a steady time of 8.86secs but showed what she is capable of in winning her semi final in the fastest time of the day in 8.66secs.

With a couple of rivals improving their own best times Holly knew that the final could well be decided in the first few strides. This proved to be the case as she was quickly out of the blocks putting pressure on her rivals. With a couple of rivals faltering at the first hurdle she led over all hurdles and despite heavily fatigued legs she crossed the line to win in 8.67secs and claim her first National Indoor Track medal and her second Championship Title of the weekend.

Also in action at these championships was Holly’s teammate Darcie Henderson who was competing in her first ever National Championships in both the 60m and 200m events. Going into the event with a 60m PB of 8.04secs Darcie knew that she would have to improve on this and was therefore looking to achieve a new PB. This she achieved in her heat where she finished 4th in 7.98secs to qualify for the semi final. Drawn against several athletes that had run under 7.90secs it was going to be a tough ask to reach the final and this proved to be the case as she finished 7th in a time of 8.00secs.

The 200m is Darcie’s preferred event and on Day 2 she was again targeting a new PB against tough opposition. In her heat Darcie was drawn against the 60m Champion and eventual 200m Champion, Ciara Neville, but not to be deterred she ran a solid race to finish 2nd in a new indoor PB of 25.75secs and qualify for the semi final. She was again drawn against Neville in the semi final and despite carrying a slight knee injury from the heats Darcie ran another solid race to finish 4th another 25.75secs time.

Both girls should be proud of the performances at these high class quality championships and both will be looking to use these as a good grounding for the forthcoming outdoor track and field season.