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Flying start to athletics season for Norfolk quartet

PUBLISHED: 10:54 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 07:55 02 July 2010

Sophie McKinna alongside her new javelin benchmark.

Sophie McKinna alongside her new javelin benchmark.

January brings with it the start of a new track and field athletics season for many club members in the region.

The youngsters were competing in two South of England Athletics Indoor Championships, held on consecutive weekends at Lee Valley Stadium, in London.

January brings with it the start of a new track and field athletics season for many club members in the region.

The youngsters were competing in two South of England Athletics Indoor Championships, held on consecutive weekends at Lee Valley Stadium, in London.

Many well known competitors attended the championships in order to gain qualifying times and distances ready for national and international competitions later in the season.

The first event, on January 10 attracted four City of Norwich Athletic Club runners: Callum McLaren, Jack Harrison and Martainn Ramsay competed in the under-17 800m heats with Martainn qualifying for the final in 2 min 6.67 sec. Martainn running against incredible competition could only manage 2:12.36 in the final, missing out on a medal.

Aaron Pitt, in only his second year of competitionm ran an unbelievable 400m straight final in a time of 52.63, shattering the previous championship record by more than half a second. It looks like another fantastic season ahead for a relative new-comer.

The following weekend marked the final competition of the series.

Taking gold in her first ever under-17 event was City of Norwich athlete Laura McDonald.

Laura, last year's top UK under-15 performer in javelin and triple jump, added nearly half a metre to her triple jump personal best, to win the event with 11.4m - a distance that would have placed her second in the under-20 ladies' competition. Another CoNAC club member, under-17 sprinter Clieo Stephenson, battled her way through heats and semis to record 25.96 in the 200m sprint and take a well earned bronze medal.

Great Yarmouth AC shot putter Sophie McKinna threw a series of massive throws culminating in a championship record-breaking 13.18m to take gold in the under-17 women's event.

On the second day of the championships, CoNAC's Iona Lake ran an excellent under-20 1,500m and was narrowly piped at the post to take silver (4:53.42).

McDonald and Stephenson both competed in the under-17 60m sprint and made it to the semi-finals, in 8.10 and 8.30 respectively.

Two younger CoNAC athletes, Ella Stephenson and Katie Vickery, took part in the under-15 event shortly after.There, Ella (8.24) and Katie (8.61) reaching the semi-finals.

Only Ella proceeded to the final, where she just missed out on a medal position.

After two great weekends of competition, it was a fantastic start to the new season.

Laura McDonald, Clieo Stephenson, Sophie McKinna and Aaron Pitt all succeeded in exceeding qualifying standards for the Aviva England Athletics Open Indoor Championships, to be held in the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, at the end of February.

The three girls all receive funding from the Norfolk Sports and Cultural foundation and are Sporting Ambassadors for Norfolk.

Laura and Clieo also receive specific sponsorship from the Norse Group based in Norwich.

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