Backwell talent Lucy Bryan aiming to scale the heights as she targets a European medal

LUCY Bryan has already achieved so much in her short career, but that won’t weaken her ambition to reach new heights at the European Under-20 Championships in Italy at the weekend.

The 18-year-old Bristol & West pole vaulter, from Backwell, will travel to Rieti today with high hopes of claiming a medal, as she is joint second with Italian Robert Bruni – the number one is another Italian, Sonia Malavisi on 4.41m – in the European Junior Rankings, having improved her personal best to 4.40m last month.

Having won a bronze in the World Youth Championships two years ago and claimed three English Schools’ titles, Bryan has shown she can handle the pressure in top-class competitions, but the pole vault can be unpredictable – Bryan failed to clear her opening height of 4.10m at the British Senior Championships last weekend and finished last – so she is taking nothing for granted.

“Obviously, I would like to win a medal in Italy, but it will be a very difficult competition, as the top girls are all so close,” said Bryan.

“It would be nice to get another personal best, but we’ll see. It is going to be an exciting competition.”

Another medal would also be a fitting reward for Bryan’s dedication, in particular over the past two years when she has been forced to cut back her competitions due to lower back problems caused by a growth spurt.

It is the sort of thing that has undermined many teenager athletes in the past, but Bryan and coach Charles Preston have successfully managed the problems.

“I seem to be managing it OK at the moment, and hopefully it is something I will grow out of,” added Bryan.

And if there were any moments when she felt despondent, Bryan could always turn to her brother, Joe Bryan, who is a professional footballer with Bristol City. “I am quite close to my brother, and having him around at home means I eat properly and don’t go out too much,” said Bryan.

“It is good to have someone who knows what it is like to train hard, as he’s doing the same sort of thing – and when I am tired from training he knows not to annoy me!”

With the support of her parents, who will also be in Italy, plus access to top-class training facilities at the University of Bath, Bryan certainly seems to have the right environment in which to go a lot further and higher in her sport in the years ahead.

Avon Athletics host an open meeting at the Kip Keino Stadium (6.30pm) in Stoke Gifford, Bristol, tonight, with entries on the night (

Cheltenham & County Harriers hold their latest mid-summer meeting at the Prince of Wales Stadium tomorrow (

There is a busy programme of races on Friday, with the GWR Towpath Mob Match 10k (, the Tin Tin Ten 10k in Tintinhull, Somerset ( and the Chudleigh Carnival 5.5-miles road race (

Yate & District athlete Adam Wilson had a successful weekend at the DSE National Junior Athletics Championships in Preston, helping the South West team to fourth overall with victories in the T20 1,500m and 3,000m, silver in the 800m and bronze in the 400m relay.

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