Dereham’s Will Smith takes four junior wheelchair athletics world titles
Top Dereham racer Will Smith came home with four golds and a silver medal from the World Junior Championships in Dubai.
The 15-year-old from Westfield flew out to the Middle East earlier in April with the Great Britain and Northern Ireland junior Paralympic team – and did not disappoint in the Under-18 T54 wheelchair racing class.
The Northgate High School pupil took his first world titles, and believes he owes his success to his winter preparations.
'Winning the four gold medals felt fantastic, especially as I have moved up to the Under-18 age group this year,' said Smith.
'My coach Jenny Archer set me a tough winter training programme this winter and I was able to follow this fully as I have stayed injury free over the past four months. And I was definitely more relaxed this year, having competed in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic in 2010.
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'My aim for the rest of the year is to set new personal best times in all my distances. My realistic senior target is selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – London 2012 selection would be a dream come true but the games are likely to come a year too soon for me…but you never know.'
With 220 athletes from 23 countries taking part in the championships, a strong 1,500m field – including Smith's main middle distance rival David Scherer of Germany – saw Smith and Scherer battle head to head as they did last year.
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The lead changed hands until the final lap, when Scherer turned a seemingly boxed-in position into victory ahead of the well positioned Smith, with Sweden's Niklas Almers third.
Smith had hot German sprint favourite Pascal Ansorg as his main rival in the Under-18 100m, and despite losing ground early on, Smith countered in style to win his first world title, by barely 0.2 seconds.
Next up was a combined Under-18/Under-20 200m final, where Smith continued his golden streak with victory over team-mate Dan Lucker in silver.
Later that day, the 800m saw a thrilling race with Scherer and Smith awarded the same time, as the pair proved inseparable over the finish line and duly picked up a gold apiece.
Finally, Smith showed his oozing confidence with a crushing win in the 400m, in temperatures approaching 30C.
'Will's performances were exceptional,' added coach Jenny Archer. 'He has worked very hard in training on the build up to Dubai and fully deserves his Under-18 world titles.'
Team GB topped the overall medal table with a record 23 gold, 14 silver and eight bronze medals, comfortably ahead of Russia, Switzerland and Germany respectively.
Smith now has a busy month of domestic competition ahead, building up to the Swiss Senior Open Championships in Pratteln, at the end of May.