Gold for St Columba's George Groom at School Games

PUBLISHED: 10:24 15 September 2016 | UPDATED: 15:17 15 September 2016

St Albans' George Groom on his way to gold in the 1500m steeplechase at the 2016 School Games in Loughborough

St Albans' George Groom on his way to gold in the 1500m steeplechase at the 2016 School Games in Loughborough

Archant

Away from the bright lights of the Rio Olympics there was another St Albans athlete winning gold at a prestigous sports event.

George Groom, who goes to St Columba’s College, picked up the top prize in the 1500m steeplechase at the 2016 School Games in Loughborough.

And he is adamant his steeplechasing will only continue to improve.

Groom clocked a time of four minutes 24.69 seconds at Paula Radcliffe Athletic Stadium on Loughborough University campus, beating Alfie Manthorpe and John Howorth.

He only took up the steeplechase last year but the 16-year-old believes he has laid down a marker to the opposition.

“It was great to win gold,” said Groom. “The School Games have been really good for my development.

“It’s important to come here and do well in order to put down a marker. This is the end of the season for everyone so everyone makes sure they make this race which is a credit to the School Games.

“I am a cross-country runner and I’ve done 1500m and 3000m. My coach, Stephen Murphy, represented Team GB at steeplechase.

“I had a go last year, trained for it and got the English Schools’ time by quite a bit. I got into it and it has given me a big chance now. It gave me a new dimension to run in and I enjoy it.”

The School Games is a major multi-sport competition for school-age elite athletes and over the course of four days, around 1,600 of the nation’s finest young sports stars were competing across 12 current and future Olympic and Paralympic sports, seven of which included disability competition.

And with 15 of Team GB’s 67 medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games coming from School Games alumni, it has proven to be a great introduction to a multi-sport environment for the stars of the future.

Max Whitlock, who became Team GB’s first-ever gymnastics Olympic gold medallist by winning on both the floor and pommel horse at Rio 2016, was on hand in Loughborough to officially launch the 11th edition of the event at the opening ceremony.

And the Hemel Hempstead star, who was a School Games reserve back in 2006, insisted that experience helped him on his way to making history in Rio last month.

“I was a reserve for the School Games but I try to turn everything into a positive,” he explained.

“I learned a lot from the experience and the competition even though I wasn’t competing.

“As a reserve you’re training up until the day of competition and competing was the only thing I didn’t do.

“I watched the other boys and they did brilliantly so that spurred me on to go further.

“The people competing here are already ahead of where I was, so they too can achieve their dreams.”

The 2016 School Games is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sport England, Youth Sport Trust, Department of Health and British Paralympic Association.

The Games took place in Loughborough from September 1-4. Visit www.2016schoolgames.com for more information.

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