TILLY HOOPER confirmed her position as the nation’s best U15 female pole vaulter on Saturday.
The 14-year-old from Merstham set a championship-best performance of 3.43 metres when winning the England age-group title at Bedford. She beat her nearest competitor by 23 centimetres.
The Reigate Grammar School pupil was already ranked third in the UK all-time list with the 3.51m personal best she set at the South of England Championships in mid-July.
She has a PB 17cms above any other girl this year and only three boys in her age-group have bettered her best – a statistic she admitted she was “really happy” about.
But she was not thinking of rankings when taking the title.
“I just wanted to win, I didn’t think about getting on to the all-time list or anything,” said Hooper.
“I was really proud to win. I wasn’t expecting to do well at all,” said Hooper, modestly. “To get the record was a bonus.
“It was really hard because the wind meant I had to keep everything really tight and do everything exactly right.”
Hooper won a medal over hurdles at the Surrey Schools Championships in June and will try shot this summer to work towards heptathlon.
But she said that was not something she wanted to take “seriously” and she wanted to concentrate on pole vault, for which she trains with her dad, the former Olympic competitor and British record holder Brian.
“When I was little I used to see him train and when I got to 10 or 11 I asked if I could have a go because it looked like fun,” said Hooper of how she began pole vaulting.
The big competitions are now over for the season and next year’s aim is the English Schools title, at U17 level, the first at which the championships include girls pole vault. But Hooper feels she has much to work on before then.
“I noticed that my plant in the competition wasn’t that great, so I will be working on that,” said Hooper, who also said the top of the jump – over the bar – was far from perfect.
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