EVESHAM’S Will Gearey was crowned boys’ under 13 national biathlon champion at the British Modern Biathlon Championships at Tudor Grange in Solihull at the weekend.
Outstanding performances in both the swim and run disciplines secured victory for the 12-year-old, who now represents Worcester Swimming Club.
The modern biathlon comprises separate timed run and swims, with points allocated for each individual event, and Gearey – a pupil at St Egwin’s CE Middle School in Evesham – proved far too strong for the opposition.
Gearey, who also won the national biathlon event in 2014, had qualified for this year’s national final as second seed, having won the West Midlands Biathlon Championship with ease in October.
The British Championships attract competitors from all over the UK, with many of the top age group youngsters representing specialist triathlon clubs or famous schools of sporting excellence such as Whitgift, Millfield and Plymouth College.
In the 100m freestyle, Gearey was seeded one and hoping to set the fastest time of the day to give himself a good lead at the halfway point.
Drawn in the final and fastest heat, Gearey found himself in a lane between Liam Openshaw from Poole Grammar School and Joseph Palmer from Sutton Grammar School.
Gearey led from the gun, powering into a quick lead and turning at 50m almost three body lengths ahead of both Openshaw and Palmer.
He then extended his lead in the final 50m to hit the wall in a very quick time of 59.28 (1,356 points), with Openshaw second in 1.04.36 (1,256 points) and Palmer dropping back to fourth in 1.05.45 (1,232 points).
At the halfway point, Gearey held a 100-point lead over second placed Openshaw, with the run specialists hoping to eat away at this lead in the next event.
The 1,600m run proved to be a challenging affair for all runners, with the rain and wind lashing down across the track and making things extremely difficult.
Gearey, seeded tenth in the run discipline, knew he faced still competition from several nationally ranked runners and at the start he fought hard to tuck in behind the early leaders who were running at close to five-minute pace and he soon settled into his running in the first couple of laps.
At the 800m mark, the pace of Harley Norman from Whitgift proved too fast for the chasing pack and he soon opened up a 15m lead, with Gearey back in fourth place at the halfway mark.
Norman then kicked on hard in the last 800m, extending his lead to 25m and finishing strongly to win in 5.04.86 (1,351 points).
Gearey, battling valiantly in the tough conditions, dug deep on the final lap to keep in touch with the leaders, finishing hard and crossing the line in seventh place in 5.19.59 (1,278).
Openshaw, who ended second overall, finished just behind Gearey in eighth place in 5.19.83 (1,276).
The final leaderboard saw Gearey crowned national biathlon champion with a total of 2,634 points, 102 ahead of Openshaw who claimed silver with 2,532, and Palmer third, just eight points behind Openshaw on 2,524.
Three other youngsters from Pershore were also in action in other age groups as they competed in their first national championships.
Nine-year-old David Annis from Holy Redeemer School in Pershore produced a fantastic performance to win the 50m swim event in the boys’ 10/under age group in 33.73 (1,342).
He then ran hard in the 800m to clock 3.02.53 (1,114) which gave him a total score of 2,456 and an amazing sixth place medal.
Megan Annis, 12, from Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester, also matched her younger brother’s final placing as she took a superb sixth place in her first attempt in the 13/under age group.
Megan finished fifth in the 100m swim in 1.05.74 (1,228) and then produced a two-second personal best in the 1,600m of 6.01.00 (1,170) to total 2,398 points.
Lauren Annis, still only ten, had qualified brilliantly at the West Midlands Championships for the 12/under age group.
Lauren, who also attends Holy Redeemer School in Pershore, produced two massive performances in both the 50m swim 33.37 (1,204) and a huge personal best best in the 800m of 2.57.53 (1,039) for a total of 2,243 points.