HE went to the start line as favourite, but Oliver Bromby admitted he was “shocked” to be crowned intermediate boys’ 100 metres champion at the English Schools’ Track & Field Championships in Birmingham.
Having endured a restless first night in the Midlands, the 16-year-old Upper Shirley High student felt distinctly lack-lustre in Friday’s heat which he won in 10.92 seconds.
But the arrival of his Southampton AC coaches Gary and Sara MacDonald settled him down on Saturday as he improved to 10.78 in the semi-final before seeing off main rival Kesi Oludoyi of Hertfordshire with a personal best-equalling 10.68 surge in the final.
“I was shocked. I didn’t think I’d win.
“I was the favourite going into it, but I just had a feeling I was going to be beaten,” Bromby confessed.
“I was a bit tired on Friday because I couldn’t sleep the night before – partly excitement, but it was boiling hot as well. I won, but I didn’t have very good technique.
“But when Gary and Sara came the next day, I looked a lot better. They’ve both been brilliant with me and, for once, I got a good start in the final. I never usually start well, but I’ve been working on it and it paid off.
“Winning at English Schools is probably the best thing I’ve done to date and it means I get to compete for England (in the Home Countries International) in Cardiff on Saturday. I finished fourth for England in Dublin last year and I should win it this time, but you never know...”
Having just sat 24 GCSE exams, Bromby, who moves to Taunton’s College this autumn, has a well deserved family cruise to look forward to next month.
It means him missing the under-17 national championships in Bedford, but he recently competed in the under-20 nationals instead, making the final with a wind-assisted 10.57 run before pulling out with a groin niggle.
Looking to the future, Bromby said: “Hopefully I’ll go on and compete for Great Britain as an under-20. I had the qualifying time this year for the World Youth Games, but I’m not quite old enough.
“I’m ranked second under-17 in the country at the moment to (Charnwood’s) Owin Sinclair who ran 10.57 competing for Great Britain in Germany. He’s eight months older than me.”
Bromby was joined at the top of the medal podium at Birmingham by junior girls’ long jumper Holly Mills of The Clere, Burghclere, who struck gold with a leap of 5.76 metres, and fellow inter boys’ sprinter Owen Richardson, who headed the 400m in 48.32.
Wildern’s Ellie Hodgson was one of Hampshire’s seven individual silver medallists, putting 12.05m in the junior girls’ shot.
The Gregg’s Andrew Douglas was runner-up in the inter boys’ pole vault with a personal best 4.30 clearance, while Fiona Brown struck silver in the senior girls’ shot put (12.22 pb) and was joined on the medal podium by fellow Peter Symonds College students Emma Cowell (senior girls’ high jump, 1.72) and Sam Adams (senior boys’ long jump, 7.15) who both collected bronze.
All told the county amassed 14 medals – three gold, eight silver and three bronze.