Gainsborough teen takes bronze in national championships

Heather Cooke with coach Dave Harmes
Heather Cooke with coach Dave Harmes

Gainsborough teenager Heather Cooke brought home a bronze medal from the fourth biggest athletics event in the world.

The hurdler ran for Lincolnshire in the English Schools Athletics Association’s National Championships, at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.

Cooke’s performance in the 300m hurdles saw her win her heat with a personal best time of 44.44 seconds.

The Queen Elizabeth’s High School student went on to win a bronze in the final, with another personal best of 43.76.

She was only beaten by 100th of a second from second place, but had to settle for third and had her medal presented by British record holder Derek Redmond.

Scunthorpe and District Athletics Club runner Cooke has one year left in the Under 17 intermediate age group and is already ranked third in England and fifth in Britain.

The 15-year-old told the Standard of her delight that her training with coach Dave Harmes paid off.

“It was strange competing in such a big stadium, but at the same time it meant the atmosphere was buzzing, and I loved that,” she said.

“I’ve been training hard, and I’m so happy with the result.”

“I was extremely nervous but had great team-mates and an excellent coach to help me.”

Cooke’s times are well with the English Schools National Standard of 45.00 seconds.

Proud dad Gary attributes a lot of her success to the Scunthorpe coach.

“There is no doubt that thanks to Heather’s coach Dave Harmes, her progress since she started less than 12 months ago has been excellent.”

The youngster now turns her attention to the Northern Under 17 Championships at Wavertree near Liverpool on 17th and 18th August.

She will then move on to the England Athletics Under 17 Championships at Bedford on 31st August.

It was her performance at the Lincolnshire County Championships at Grantham that qualified her for the English Schools event, when she took two gold medals three silvers and a bronze from six events.

Her 300m hurdles time of 44.8 seconds was a Lincolshire County Championship record.