Neil’s aiming high
AN ACE javelin thrower is determined to build on a fantastic season and reach the pinnacle of his sport. This year has been the biggest one so far for Stevenage and North Herts AC member Neil McLellan. The 28-year-old who lives in Stevenage earned his fir
AN ACE javelin thrower is determined to build on a fantastic season and reach the pinnacle of his sport.
This year has been the biggest one so far for Stevenage and North Herts AC member Neil McLellan.
The 28-year-old who lives in Stevenage earned his first Great Britain vest and beat his personal best on three occasions.
Neil said: "This year has been a real turning point and this shows in how I performed in all of my competitions. I was able to break the Southern Men's League record three times, on separate occasions to my personal bests.
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"Last year I had a best of 71.36m and only threw over 70m one other time. The last time I threw 70m or more was in 2003, so I needed to put all the hard work I put into the winter training to good use.
"I started the season 2m up from last year and after six competitions, I was still searching for that 70m again."
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Neil competed in the South of England Championships and broke his personal best with 71.84m.
After needing to change a couple of things, he threw 66m in the following competition.
But he then took part in the Eastern Championships and threw another best with his first ever 72m effort of 72.27m.
Neil continued: "I went on from there to throw five more 70m plus throws with only one of them being below 71m.
"During this time I was crowned UK Athletics Challenge champion for the second successive year and was selected to compete for Team GB at the Birmingham international against USA, China and Russia.
"Being selected to throw for GB has been my proudest moment so far. I say 'so far' because I plan on doing more next year."
With Lottery funding generally reserved for those who are already at the top of their sport, Neil is grateful for the financial support he has received this year.
Sport Stevenage and the borough council gave him £600 to buy another competition javelin.
Neil continued: "This money and a lot of help from my family helped me achieve the best performances of my life.
Neil said: "At the GB international during the presentations, the crowd clapped all the athletes.
"When it came to the GB athletes it was an amazing cheer. There were only a couple of hundred of people watching, but it felt so good with people cheering us on.
"That was only a couple of hundred people. Imagine it being thousands of them all cheering at 2012 in London.
"The Olympics will be great for the whole country and it's one of my dreams to be part of it in 2012."
Other Stevenage and North Herts AC members could also make the grade and reach the 2012 Olympics.
Notably, club pole vault record holder Louise Shortland.
With a current personal record of 3.60m, the Royston-based athlete could definitely be in the running for a place on the team if her current improvement continues.
Hitchin Girls' School pupil Bunmi Awokoya could also hit the mark.
Currently in the under-17 girls' age group, she holds best times of 12.29 over 100m and 25.5 for 200m.
Hard work and dedication could stand her in good stead for a place at the Games, possibly in the heptathlon as she in showing great form in a number of events.
Laurie Pirie may possibly clear the heights needed to represent Great Britain in the high jump.
The Stevenage-based athlete clears 1.90m regularly and could come up to scratch to make the team.