Newport puts down a marker
OLIVER Newport has one hand grasping a ticket to the World Junior Championships after surprising himself with a massive long jump.
The 17-year-old now hopes to impress selectors again at this weekend's Great Britain trials for the global U20s event, in Barcelona in early July.
The Oxted School pupil jumped 7.70 metres in Birmingham the weekend before last, 15cm further than the qualifying distance.
That jump left him ranked ninth in the country and invited to the Olympic trials on June 22-24 in Birmingham, as well as putting him in the frame for the international event in Spain.
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It was a distance for which Newport's training partner, Croydon's Elliot Safo, who is a year older, had been aiming - and finally achieved at the Bedford International Games on Sunday.
"I wasn't really aiming for that distance at all this year," said the A-level student from Bletchingley. "It was a surprise.
"For a few days I couldn't quite believe it. I knew I could go big, but I didn't think I could jump that far."
At the Alexandra Stadium, however, the Crawley AC member fulfilled what his coach had been asking for, technically.
"I was running faster – I'm starting to run faster from the start of my run-up – and I've sorted out what I'm doing with my arms in the air. When I take off my right arm was coming across my body, which makes me over rotate."
Two competitors can be selected for the Worlds and Newport said: "Hopefully they will take both of us."
If nobody else earns the distance this weekend, both he and Safo could be heading to Spain to compete against the world's best.
Was Safo pleased for his training partner, or annoyed that Newport had got the qualifying mark before him?
"I think he was happy," Newport said with a chuckle. "He knew he could do it and he proved it [on Sunday]."
Newport has received encouragement from fellow Oxted school pupil Rachel Dickens, who hopes to make the World U20s herself, in the 4x400m relay.
"I spoke to him and he seemed a bit scared about next week but I said to him as long as he jumps the same or close to it, it would be fine."
Dickens, from Tatsfield, has clocked 55.16 seconds for 400m this season, ranking her third U20 in her first year at the age-group.
She would need 53.75s to be considered for an individual 400m berth in Barcelona.
"All I'm aiming for this year is do well at English Schools, because I'm a first year at this age group, and to try to make the relay team for the World Juniors.
"53.75 seconds is quite a big difference, but I'm going to try to get close to it."
The following weekend is the Olympic trials, to which she also has an invitation.
"It will be scary, but a great experience. I will get to race against Christine Ohuruogu but it will be fine because I think it's just heats and a final.
"I just have to run to get a good time. I don't think I will get to the final, I'd have to run 51 or 50 seconds.
"I've never had a race with my name on the bib before."
Her national ranking gives her hope she can compete for an English Schools medal, in Gateshead on July 6 to 7. "I really hope so. I want to make the final and then see where I come."