Swansea’s Stephanie Nicholas takes place in history alongside Olympians Sotherton and Lewis-Francis
SWANSEA’S Stephanie Nicholas played a starring role last weekend after emulating the likes of Olympic medalists Kelly Sotherton and Mark Lewis-Francis by scooping silver at the Aviva Athletics Academy Sportshall Finals.
The 15-year-old recorded a distance of 10.59m to finish second in the under-15 girls shot put at the flagship junior athletics development event of the year in Birmingham.
Nicholas – who attends Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr – also took part in 2-lap race and the vertical jump but failed to add to her medal haul as she finished 41st and 37th respectively.
But after writing her name into the Sportshall history books alongside the likes of Sotherton and Lewis-Francis – who tasted success in 1992 and 1998 respectively – Nicholas was left grinning from ear to ear.
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“It felt really special to go up and collect my silver on the podium because I really wasn’t expecting to get a medal,” said Nicholas – who is a member of Swansea Harriers AC.
“I had aimed for around fifth so I am really happy to have got much better than I was ever expecting. It feels like quite a big deal for me and I am genuinely delighted.
“It was great fun to be part of a team and one day I hope to be part of the British team as a professional athlete.”
The national Sportshall Final in Birmingham is part of the Aviva Athletics Academy, which encourages and enables children to get involved in track and field.
And Nicholas’ efforts at the LG Arena didn’t go unnoticed with current Aviva GB & NI Team high jumper Robbie Grabarz there to cheer on the competitors.
Top athletes like Jess Ennis started their career at Aviva Athletics Academy schemes and Grabarz – who came sixth at the World Indoor Championships in March – believes Nicholas is well placed for a bright future.
“It is nice to see youngsters like Stephanie having fun, enjoying athletics and that is how it should be really,” said Grabarz.
“I used to do Sportshall as a kid so it was great to get the opportunity to come back and hopefully inspire a few kids in the same way that I was when I was younger.
“There were some outstanding performances and the future of British athletics looks to be in good hands. Hopefully the next Jess Ennis was in there somewhere.”
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