Linton Gardiner was crowned England Athletics under 17 decathlon champion with a gold winning weekend of performances. The sixteen year old made a good start to the competition in Stoke with a personal best of 11.82 seconds for third place in the 100m. A 5.80m long jump saw him slip to fifth overall before a shot put win of 11.82m moved him up into third place, a position he maintained with a 1.90m clearance for victory in the high jump. Gardiner then finished the opening day with a 51.82 clocking to win the 400m. This left the Kerry Eddie coached athlete lying in silver medal position at the end of the day, 177 points behind Seaton AC’s Elliot Baines.
The next day saw Gardiner make it four event wins in a row with a 100m hurdles win in 14.08 seconds to remain second overall. The Midland Schools champion then placed second in the discus with 35.06m as the competition lead changed hands. However, it was discus winner Josh Prentice of Chelmsford now in pole position with Gardiner just 43 points adrift. A 3.50m clearance for second in the pole vault was enough for the Cheltenham athlete to take the lead which he then extended to 172 points with a throw of 38.82m for second place in the javelin. Gardiner then finished his weekend in style with a personal best of 4:33.74 for second in the 1500m to take the gold medal, 326 points ahead of Dartford’s Joe Clark. As well as the national title Gardiner’s points total of 6231 also earned him the Midlands gold medal and was a new Cheltenham Harriers under 17 club record.
In the under 15 boy’s octathlon Nathaniel Hatherley had a mixed weekend despite picking up a Midlands silver medal. With fourth place in the 100m in 12.59 seconds, a 1.44m clearance in the high jump and a 58.74 clocking in the 400m, Hatherley was placed fifth overall after three events. However, he failed to register a distance in the javelin which saw him end the day in tenth out of the thirteen competitors. Day two saw the young Harrier place second in the 80m hurdles in 12.42 seconds before throwing the discus 19.22m. A fine second place with a height of 2.75m in the pole vault and a 3:21.4 clocking in the 1000m moved Hatherley up to seventh in the final standings.