DUDLEY’S Ann Ika-Oqua admitted rounding out her Aviva English Schools’ Track and Field Championships career with a bronze medal was a fine way to say goodbye.
Ika-Oqua’s trip to Gateshead was her fifth and final English Schools’ experience and the Dudley ace made sure she didn’t disappoint — clocking 55.47 seconds in the 400 metres and climb the podium.
For the 17-year-old and her fellow medallists, Jessie Knight and Rachel Dickens, it went some way to making up for the disappointment of missing out on qualifying for the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
The rain and wind of the Gateshead International Stadium was a far cry from the Olympic Stadium in sunny Spain, but a delighted Ika-Oqua didn’t care.
The former Ormiston Forge pupil said: “I am very pleased with the bronze. “I came here hoping for a medal and that’s what I’ve got. “I’m happpy with the time because I have been consistent but in the future I want to break that.
“This was my fifth and last English Schools and it’s been a great experience.
“I’m so pleased to end it with a medal.
“I’m at university next year and I want to look ahead to the the European Under-23 Championships as well.
“Hopefully I can break 55 and hit the lower 54s so they see my potential and pick me.
“We were meant to have a relay team for the Worlds in Barcelona but because no one ran the 53.7 time, they didn’t pick one.
“If they were to pick a relay team they would have had Jessie, Rachel and me, so we were quite gutted we didn’t get to do it but we’ve proved ourselves here so hopefully for next year they’ll see us as potential candidates.”
Ika-Oqua followed in some illustrious footsteps by claiming a medal at the English Schools — London 2012-bound Jessica Ennis, Jack Green and Andy Turner have all started their careers at Aviva Athletics Academy schemes.
And she wasn’t the only Dudley medallist with Jack Lawrence taking intermediate 100m bronze — a result that left the Dormston School pupil a happy man.
He said: “I’m pleased with the bronze this year, but the season’s not finished for me. There is a good chance to get a personal best in one of the meetings I have left. Aviva has been backing the British athletes and the GB & NI Team since 1999. Now it’s your turn. #BackTheTeam or search for ‘Aviva Athletics’ on Facebook