Whitby teen earns silver medal in English Schools steeplechase

Dani Braithwaite with the silver medal she won in the senior girls' steeplechase at the English Schools Championship in Gateshead
Dani Braithwaite with the silver medal she won in the senior girls' steeplechase at the English Schools Championship in Gateshead
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WHITBY runner Dani Braithwaite admits the longer distance is suiting her just fine after picking up silver in the 1,500m senior girls’ steeplechase at the Aviva English Schools’ Track and Field Championships in Gateshead.

The 17-year-old has only tentatively dipped her toes into the discipline over the past 12 months – her Northern Premier League crown at the same venue at the end of June highlighting her knack to adapt.

Indeed, the Whitby Community College pupil has a taste for the Gateshead International Stadium track, setting a new personal best of 5mins 5.88secs on route to her second-place finish, but she admits there is a long way to go before she masters her new trade.

Former 800m runner Braithwaite, who failed to claim a podium place in each of the past two seasons over the shorter distance, now hopes to book a place to Italy for the European Junior Championships in July 2013.

“I like this event more and I feel less pressure,” said Braithwaite, who follows in some illustrious footsteps by claiming a medal at the English Schools – London 2012-bound Jess Ennis, Jack Green and Andy Turner having all started their careers at Aviva Athletics Academy schemes.

“I will be working on more stamina now and I am hoping to try out for Europeans next year so that is the goal.

“I have done 800m twice before at the English Schools’ Championships, which I didn’t do too well in so this has been a bit of a change and it has obviously been worth my while.

“I was hoping to win a medal judging from where I was ranked but it was great to get a medal in the seniors and I am so pleased.

“I just wanted to do my best and see what happened. The race was good. It went off a bit fast but I managed to stick with it.

“I hit my leg on one of the barriers so that was a bit sore but I just continued running.”

Braithwaite’s impact on the steeplechase scene has been impressive, but she admits that competitive races are few and far between.

The Loftus and Whitby AC member was well beaten by eventual winner Katie Ingle, but she believes the experience can only be a good thing. “It was different running with people around me as I had only previously run the distance on my own,” she added.

“It’s great fun to be part of a team and one day I hope to be part of the Aviva GB & NI Team as a professional athlete.

“I am so excited that I’ll be watching my heroes this summer and I hope it will make a huge difference for our athletes to know that we will all be backing the team.”

Tony Hare, of Loftus and Whitby AC, said the English Schools’ Championships was the pinnacle of the schools’ track and field season and the athletes had to reach very high standards to be selected for their counties.

“Not only has Dani reached the standard for the steeplechase, she has also achieved the times for both the 800m and 1500m,” he said.

“Dani is the second athlete from Loftus and Whitby Athletics Club to win a medal at this prestigious event, Grace Rodgers being the first in 2010 with her bronze medal in the 800m.”

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