A STUNNING performance in the senior boys’ shot putt at the regional qualifier has convinced Josh Ricketts to switch events for the English Schools’ Championships next month.

Until now, the 18-year-old Ridgeway School student has built his reputation as a hammer thrower – he was seventh in the senior finals at the nationals last year – and it was expected he would contest the event again this summer after retaining his South West Schools’ title in Exeter on Saturday.

But Ricketts, who is a member of Swindon Harriers, not only won the hammer with a personal best throw of 52.85m by adding 80cms to his previous best, but also added a silver medal in the shot putt.

It was the manner of that latter medal that has persuaded Ricketts to make a surprise switch as he smashed his PB by a staggering 1metre 70cms as he recorded 14.89m to propel him up from 30th to ninth in the UK U20 men’s rankings

“That was unexpected so I am absolutely delighted,” said Ricketts, who is coached by Bob Broadbridge

“I didn’t think the hammer was particularly good but the shot was very good. To be honest, I have only done one proper training session for the shot since April but I think I threw so well because I was competing against better people on Saturday.

“I tend to raise my game and I certainly did that in the shot, so I will now do that event at the English Schools’ Championships because I think it will give me a better chance of winning a medal.

“It will be my last time at the championships, so it would be nice to finish with a medal.”

Ricketts’ gold wasn’t the only local success at the event as Swindon Harriers also had another champion in javelin thrower Hannah Lewington.

Lewington, who is currently fifth in the UK U15 girls’ rankings, won the junior girls’ title but in the colours of Gloucestershire as she attends St Edward’s School in Cheltenham.

There was also a bronze medal for Lydiard Park School student Delleah Belgrave in the junior girls’ 100m, in which she set a PB of 12.59secs in the heats to go third on the South West rankings.

Patrick Mochan and Ayla Tonkin are both new to the steeplechase discipline, but on the evidence so far, they have bright futures.

In only her third attempt at the 1,500m inter girls’ event, Ridgeway School student Tonkin smashed her best with a time of 5mins 45.96secs.

Unfortunately, such was the standard of the race that despite the huge PB, Tonkin found herself in 10th but can console herself that she is sure to go much faster.

Likewise, Lydiard Park’s Mochan slashed almost 10 seconds off his PB with 4:45.21 to place sixth in the inter boys’ 1,500m steeplechase at only his third race in the event.

Kingsdown School’s Hannah New was just outside her PB when finishing fifth in the senior girls’ 400m hurdles, while St Joseph Catholic School’s Joseph Knibb missed his PB by just 0.05secs as he came sixth in the inter boys’ 400m.