Jo's javalin joy

ATHLETICS: SUFFOLK'S Jo Chapman has scooped a gold medal at the English Schools track and field championships held in Exeter.The 16-year-old from Bury St Edmunds won the intermediate girls' javelin competition with a throw of 41.

SUFFOLK'S Jo Chapman has scooped a gold medal at the English Schools track and field championships held in Exeter.

The 16-year-old from Bury St Edmunds won the intermediate girls' javelin competition with a throw of 41.66m to earn a second England Schools international vest.

In last year's competition Chapman came second, but this year she went one better, with a throw that was not far off her 42.37m personal best.

After leading the field for most of the competition with an initial throw of 41.19m, she then had a nervous few moments when a rival produced a huge throw in the final round.

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"Her throw looked really long," said Chapman, who attends Bury County Upper School. "But it measured at 41.35m which wasn't enough to beat my 41.66 and I was so pleased when I realised I had won."

She will now make her second international appearance for English Schools at a home international tournament to be held in Dublin next week.

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Jermaine Bernard was another success story for Suffolk as he took silver in the intermediate boys' long jump with a tremendous PB performance.

Bernard, a pupil at Northgate School and a member of Ipswich Harriers, jumped 6.91m in the heats, and then followed this up with a new landmark leap of 7.00m to finish second in the final. He will also represent English Schools in the international meeting in Dublin.

Jemma Thake, from Samuel Ward, went through three tough races in the intermediate girls' 300m before setting a personal best of 39.84secs in the final. She took the bronze medal, but just missed out on a schools international.

There was a superb showing from Tom Sharland, of Ipswich School, in the senior boys' 3,000m. Sharland has burst onto the scene with a string of eye-catching performances this summer.

He made further progress at Exeter by finishing a fine second in a pb of 8mins 24.85secs.

There were many other highlights for the Suffolk contingent. Chris Knox, of King Edward VI School, matched his pb of 1.90m with fifth spot in the inter-boys' high jump, and a delighted Kate Brinkley set a pb of 1.58m on her way to sixth in the junior girls' high jump.

In-form Victoria Tunaley had to cope with a tough lane draw in the final of the senior girls' 400m (lane six), but showed her battling qualities to finish sixth.

Bramford-based Tunaley, 17, is looking forward to competing for Great Britain at the European Youth Olympics in Spain later this month.

Danny Jillions, of Royal Hospital School, was another to notch a personal best. He leapt to 14.10m in the senior boys' triple jump, finishing seventh in his first major event.

Andrew Harland, who was also tasting his first experience of English Schools competition, threw the javelin out to 49.05m for eighth spot in the inter-boys' javelin.

And there was a blistering performance from the inter-girls' relay team. The quartet of Anna Clayton, Louise Morgan, Jemma Thake and Lousia Wells took the bronze medals in 49.23secs.

Essex athletes were also to the fore, led by a terrific showing from Rob Smith in the senior boys' 400m.

Smith, a 15-year-old pupil at the Gilberd School, and a member of Colchester & Tendring AC, clinched silver with a PB of 49.4secs. This has earned him an international outing in Dublin.

High jumper Darren Steadman, of Colchester Harriers AC, was a little disappointed with his fourth spot. He had jumped 1.90m at the previous day's District Sports event at Colchester Garrison, but had to be content with 1.78m at Exeter.

n Javelin is not an expensive sport but it is very difficult to get funding for equipment. If anyone is interested in sponsoring Jo as she pursues her career, please contact 01284 701916.

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