Athletics: Horsham pole vaulter claims bronze but has bigger aims

Horsham Blue Star pole vaulter Calum Neil
Horsham Blue Star pole vaulter Calum Neil

It’s not often you come away disappointed from a podium finish at a national championships, but pole vaulter Calum Neil wanted more.

The Horsham Blue Star Harrier picked up a bronze medal for his vault of 2.80m in the under-15 event at the England Young Athletes Indoor Championships at Birmingham over the weekend.

And while pleased to have medalled, 14-year-old Calum believes he could have gone much higher if nerves had not got the better of him.

He said: “I was quite disappointed actually, I just could not take off. I was not too nervous but maybe that did play a part. Even though you are not fully aware of them, they build-up.

“It’s great to won bronze, but I thought it would do better.

“The great thing about these competitions is the support you get, mainly from the other vaulters, they are always friendly, co-operative and give you great encouragement.”

Number-one ranked under-15 Calum, who took up the discipline just over 12 months ago, has a personal best of 3.34metres - a height which would have comfortably been been good enough for the gold medal won by Southampton-based rival Andrew Douglas.

Now in his second year of competing at under-15 level, Calum has to use a slightly heavier pole, and says he has adjusted well under the guidance of Blue Star coach Mick Cole.

“I had been vaulting well with it and had been doing heights near my best in training,” he added.

The Blue Stars have forged a niche in producing top class vaulters, with Lucy Stickland’s success on the national stage followed by Jade Brewster, who is currently the third ranked under-17 in the UK.

Calum, who trains twice a week on top of general athletics training , added: “My coach asked me if I wanted to take it up and I hope to get as good as Jade. I thought it would be a great experience and I have enjoyed it.”