Sale’s all-rounder looks set to hit the combined heights, as AW discovered
After winning the English Schools’ junior girls’ pentathlon title in September last year, Grace Bower is aiming high, with her dream being to take part in the World Juniors, the Commonwealth Games and ultimately, the Olympics.
The 15-year-old scored a PB of 3273 at the English Schools, a score that placed her second in the end of season age group rankings behind Scotland’s Holly McArthur. With the top four from the English Schools selected to represent their country in the SIAB Schools’ International in Glasgow, Grace also earned her first England cap.
Reflecting on the day that saw her first national title win, the Sale Harrier revealed: “Winning was amazing and such a thrill. I achieved PBs in hurdles, high jump, shot put and 800m and was only 1cm off in long jump, so the day couldn’t have gone any better. I was totally exhausted after the 800m, but getting the gold medal and then trying on my England kit with the other girls made it all worthwhile.”
Although Grace got disqualified in the 800m in Glasgow, the resilient teenager enjoyed the experience of her first international. “It was a brilliant experience for me, even though it ended in upset and a few tears. I was in second going into the 800m and finished the race in third, which would have placed me third overall. However, an official held up a red card, as I had stepped on the white line. I met lots of great people in Glasgow and have become good friends with all my England teammates,” recalls Grace.
Grace is also quick to credit the role that the athlete who came third in the English Schools, Megan McHugh, has had in her success. “Megan is my main training partner and is also coached by Chris Bartram. She was just two places behind me at the English Schools. Having someone this close in competition is fantastic for both of us and really pushes us on. Meg always brings the best out in me,” explains Grace, adopting a mature attitude.
Since speaking with AW, Grace has gone on to score 3570 points indoors as an under-17 at the England Athletics Combined Events Championships, placing her second behind Ada’ora Chigbo after a strong finish in the 800m secured her the silver.
Having previously been a gymnast, Grace started athletics aged 10 through a sportshall competition. Peter Torrence from Stockport Harriers noticed Grace had a nice running style and invited her along to the club where she participated in middle distance and cross country.
However, Stockport was often short of athletes to do the field events in the Youth Development League. Grace takes up the story: “I volunteered for absolutely everything I could and very soon realised that I enjoyed the field events so much more than cross country. It wasn’t long after that I made my own decision to take up track and field.
“My favourite event was long jump so I spoke to Peter who told me to see Ian Willshire at Sale Harriers for specialised coaching, in addition to my running training at Stockport.”
However, it was not long before Grace’s talent was noticed. Aged 13, she became the youngest member of Bartram’s multievents training group. As a multi-eventer, Grace has to train for all of the different events, but reveals: “The hardest training I do right now is 10x200m sprints with a two-minute recovery.”
In year 10 at Werneth School, Grace wants to become a commercial airline pilot and has already began flying lessons. However, she has some athletics aims to fulfil first. “I am very much looking forward to the new season in the under-17 age group. The pressure is slightly off me this year, but I am aiming to get to the English Schools combined events final again.
“My future aims are to achieve all I can in multi-events. I have a great coach and a fantastic opportunity,” explains the determined athlete.
You can find further performance stats on Grace on Power of 10 here.
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