POLE vaulting novice Nikko Hunt completed a remarkable comeback from injury by claiming a silver medal at the Aviva English Schools’ Track & Field Championships.
The 14-year-old, from Enford near Pewsey, finished runner-up in the junior boys event, narrowly losing to Essex rival Jack Longhurst in a gold medal jump-off in Gateshead last weekend.
The Dauntsey’s pupil’s success – on his Championships debut – came just one year into his vaulting career and barely four months after he suffered a broken elbow while skateboarding.
The teenager, coached at Team Bath by Tim Snowden, said: “I was really pleased with it because it was my first English Schools’ and I haven’t been in that many competitions.
“We had a jump off for the gold medal as me and the other guy were equal on count-back but unfortunately I couldn’t win as he cleared the height (3.60m) first. But there is always next year and this was only my first time.”
Hunt’s clearance was a new personal best and added another medal to a growing collection that includes bronze at the National Indoor Championships in February, the day after which, he suffered the elbow injury.
The youngster, who is still unable to fully straighten his left arm, said: “I was long boarding (a type of skateboarding) and I hyper-extended my elbow. It was a pretty slow recovery and it did affect my vaulting.
“At first, I couldn’t bend the pole and couldn’t vault properly. But it got better and, in time, straightened out.’’ Originally a hurdler, Hunt switched to the field event last year because growing pains had caused him injuries and he revealed that seeing one of his school friends encouraged him to change.
“One of my friends at Dauntsey’s, Clare Dyer, is a pole vaulter (Dyer was fourth in the inter girls event at Gateshead) and I got a bit inspired by her,’’ added Hunt, who harbours ambitions of competing for Great Britain and in the World Junior Championships in the future.
“I did hurdles, but kept getting injured so I was encouraged to give the pole vault a shot and it went from there.
“I did a fair amount of gymnastics and I think that comes into play a bit, but the main reason it has gone so well is because I have a great coach.’’ Hunt’s medal was one of five won by Wiltshire in Gateshead, including a gold for Marshfield’s Loren Bleaken, 16, in the inter girls’ 800m.
by: Owen Houlihan