Gearey claims fourth successive British title - The Evesham Observer

Gearey claims fourth successive British title

Evesham Editorial 29th Nov, 2017 Updated: 29th Nov, 2017   0

EVESHAM’S Will Gearey won the boys’ national under 15 title at the British Modern Biathlon Championships at Tudor Grange in Solihull to make it a staggering four national crowns in a row.

The 14-year-old Prince Henry’s High School pupil, who swims for Worcester SC, holds a phenomenal record in the biathlon, having won his first British title in 2014 before successfully defending the crown over the next three years.

The modern biathlon comprises a separate timed swim (200m) and run (1,600m), with points allocated for each individual event. The British Championships attracts competitors from all over the UK, with many of the top age group youngsters competing representing specialist modern pentathlon schools of sporting excellence such as Whitgift, Millfield and Leweston.

Gearey had qualified for this year’s national final as joint third seed, having won the West Midlands Biathlon Championship with a solid performance in October. Moving up an age group this year meant the swim distance increased from 100m to 200m, while the run remained the same, with the points allocation slightly weighted in favour of the run.

Swim specialist Gearey knew he faced a tough battle to retain his title. Drawn in the second fastest run heat, he needed to put down a time around the five minutes, ten seconds mark to stand any chance of a podium position.

As expected, the 1,600m run proved to be a challenging affair for Gearey. He settled into a good pace in the first few laps, holding fourth position at the 800m point, looking comfortable around two minutes, 30 seconds and ahead of his personal best.

Gearey managed to hold a good pace for the next 400m, keeping his main rivals in sight on the last lap. With 400m to go, Gearey managed to find another gear and showed tremendous determination to move up from fourth to third place in his heat, crossing the line in 5.07.29 (1,214 points).

At the halfway stage, Gearey was lying in 12th position, 135 points adrift of Daniel Joyce from St Thomas More RC Secondary School who won the 1,600m in a superb time of 4.40.27 (1,349 points), with Josh French from Idsall School in second with 4.50.25 (1,299 points) and Charlie Cook from Crispin School third on 4.51.85 (1,291 points).

French looked most likely to be Gearey’s main challenger for the title, as he had qualified as number one seed for the championship.

Up next was the 200m freestyle swim, with Gearey seeded one and hoping to set a fast time to claw back points on the halfway leaders.

Drawn in the final and fastest heat, Gearey found himself in a heat with several leading British-ranked swimmers including Marcus Scullion from Wildern School (Southampton), Harrison Barber from Biddulph High School (Staffordshire) and Luke Fowle from Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School (Kent).

Gearey, Barber and Scullion were into an early lead from the gun, with Gearey turning first at 50m ahead of Scullion and then Barber. Gearey then extended his lead over the chasing pack at the 100m mark, with Scullion a couple of body lengths behind.

The final four lengths saw both Gearey and Scullion having to dig deep into their reserves and, despite both feeling the effects of the run, they managed to produce personal bests.

Gearey produced the fastest swim of the day with a new PB time of 2.01.20 (1,288 points), while Scullion clocked 2.03.19 (1,270). Fowle managed to just pip Barber for third place in 2.06.36 (1,238 points).

French swam 2.11.80 for 1,182 points, while run specialist Joyce moved out of contention with a 2.30.11 swim (1,000).

The final leaderboard saw Gearey crowned champion with a total of 2,502 points, just 21 ahead of French for silver with 2,481, with Liam Openshaw, from Poole Grammar School, third on 2,477.

Gearey’s success means he is invited to attend the World Class Talent Identification Camp run by Pentathlon GB at The Hartbury Modern Pentathlon Academy in December and he is also heading to Sheffield later in December to attend his first Commonwealth Games swimming trials at Ponds Forge.

It has been a hugely successful 2017 for Gearey, who picked up his first medal in swimming’s British Summer Championships in July and was then selected for the Swim England Talent Programme held in October and November.

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