THREE Vale youngsters were crowned West Midlands biathlon champions at Tudor Grange in Solihull at the weekend and can now look forward to competing in the national finals at the end of November.
The modern biathlon comprises a separate timed run and swim, with points allocated for each individual event, and the local trio proved how talented they are at all disciplines.
Will Gearey, 12, who attends St Egwins Middle School in Evesham and now swims for Worcester SC, proved too strong for the opposition in the boys’ U13 age group, dominating both the swim (100m) and run (1,600m) disciplines.
Gearey, who won the national U12 biathlon title in 2014, stormed to an easy win in the 100m freestyle in 1.00.14, leading from the start to score 1,340 points and the time puts him at the top of the UK rankings for the swim going into the national final.
After the swim, Gearey found himself nearly 200 points ahead of his nearest rival Liam Budd.
In the 1,600m run, Gearey again led from the gun with a dominant display of running, crossing the line in 5.19.64 to secure a huge personal best in the process.
Gearey’s run, half a minute ahead of Budd, gave him 1,277 points and a total of 2,617 points, securing him automatic qualification to the U13 National Biathlon Championships in November.
Megan Annis, 12, who swims for Pershore SC and attends Blessed Edward College in Worcester, also dominated the girls’ U13 age group, winning both the swim and run events.
In her first ever biathlon, Megan produced an excellent swim in the 100m freestyle, clocking 1.05.75 to claim first place, nearly six seconds quicker than her nearest rival and notching up 1,228 points.
After the swim, Megan was more than 100 points ahead of Charlotte Tame. The 1,600m run proved to be a slightly harder affair for Megan who paced the race fantastically.
She resisted the temptation to race to the front, instead tucking in behind Tame for the first three laps before picking off her rival in the last 400m with a superb turn of pace.
Megan won her first biathlon title with a strong finish to take gold in 6.03.06 with a total of 2,388 points which means she is set to be one of the top seeds in the national final.
Younger brother David Annis, nine, who attends Holy Redeemer in Pershore and swims for Pershore SC, also topped the podium at his first attempt, winning the boys’ U10 title (50m swim/800m run).
He produced the fastest swim of the day by more than ten seconds, winning the 50m freestyle with ease in a superb time of 35.26 to secure 1,294 points.
After the first event, David was more than 200 points ahead of second placed Anan Tiger Clarke back on 1,072 points.
Next up, David had to tackle the 800m run and produced another strong performance. Although he could not quite match his swim result, David ran hard from the gun to finish in fourth place, just four seconds behind the leader in a massive personal best time of 2.54.62 (1,231 points).
David claimed the second gold for the Annis family with a total of 2,525 points and again will be one to watch at the national finals.
Despite being only ten, Lauren Annis produced two massive efforts in both the swim and run in the girls’ U12 event to secure her automatic place at the national finals.
Lauren’s best performance came in the 50m swim, clocking a fast time of 33.00 to claim second place and notching up 1,210 points, just 38 points off first place.
In the 800m run, Lauren found herself against some formidable runners but still managed a new personal best of 3.04.89 (928 points).
Lauren, who also attends Holy Redeemer and swims for Pershore SC, was one of the youngest competitors in her age group and ended her first biathlon event with an impressive fifth place on 2,138 points as she also qualified for the national finals.