Holly Mills wants to be the first British under-17 long jumper to break the 6.50m barrier, writes Emily Moss
Having leapt to No.2 on the UK all-time indoor under-17 long jump rankings courtesy of her 6.22m to win the England Athletics title earlier this year, 16-year-old Holly Mills’ main target for 2016 is to gain GB selection for the inaugural European Youth Championships in Tbilisi.
As well as her national indoor long jump title, the distance only having been bettered by Margaret Cheetham 31 years ago, the talented Andover athlete (pictured above, centre) also won the 60m hurdles and her 8.52 PB set when winning the South of England title is also the fastest time by an under-17 athlete in the UK this year.
Add to that a 6.29m long jump outdoor PB for fourth all-time in the age group, set in her first year as an under-17 last year, and it is of little surprise that the ambitious teenager is aiming to etch her name at the top of the record books by the end of 2016.
Reflecting on last year, which also saw her win England Athletics, English Schools’ and UK School Games titles, Holly explains: “I jumped 6.29m at the Southerns last year to break Jade Johnson’s championship best from 1995. When I saw it go up on the scoreboard, I was ecstatic.
“I’m really hoping in 2016 I can go further and I am looking to break 6.40m and maybe even become the first under-17 to go beyond 6.50m!”
Having already amassed an impressive CV, Holly finds it difficult to pinpoint her best achievement, but she feels the first time she cleared six metres and winning gold when wearing her national kit at the SIAB Schools’ International were equally special.
“My first six-metre jump was what really spurred me on to aim for the British under-17 record this year,” reveals Holly, when speaking about a mark that also belongs to Cheetham, standing at 6.45m.
Having first gone to Andover AC at the age of eight, having been spotted in a school sports day, Holly trains four times a week at Andover with her coach James Coney. With both parents having completed the London Marathon and her sister Abbie also involved in the sport, Holly comes from a sporting family and her dad is also a coach.
“He still tells everyone that my speed is down to his genes,” jokes Holly.
However, on a more serious note, Holly is quick to credit her coach. “James is the best coach I could wish for. I started with him when I was aged 10, as the youngest member of the squad and he has developed my sprinting and jumping technique over the last six years, which I am massively thankful for.”
Her training group also includes Jasmine McClutchie, Darcie Henderson and Elizabeth Butler-Clack, who combined with Holly to become England Athletics under-17 4x100m champions last year.
“It was one of my best moments of 2015 to be up on the winner’s podium with three of my best friends to receive a national gold medal,” says Holly. “I have to say that I have made some lasting friendships through athletics.”
Holly’s first year representing Blackheath and Bromley second claim was 2015. Looking beyond her main target for this year, the European Youth Championships, the ambitious teenager has her sights set on the World Youth Championships and the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017.
You can find further performance stats on Holly on Power of 10 here.
» Support young athletes via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk