As part of our Young Athlete series, AW catches up with a sprinter who was fourth in the world youth 200m in 2013

Having moved to No.2 on the UK all-time under-17 rankings for 200m when finishing fourth in 20.84 at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Ukraine last year, Thomas Somers describes 2013 as “a dream come true”.

After proving himself as a championship performer, the 17-year-old now has his sights set on qualifying for the IAAF World Junior Championships in Oregon later this year.

The City of York athlete broke through as one of the top sprinters in his age group in 2012, when he claimed silver at the UK School Games in the Olympic Stadium, before winning English Schools and SIAB Schools international golds.

He says: “It was a phenomenal year for me. The UK School Games will always stand out in my mind as it was my fi rst sub-22 race, but also because of the venue. Representing my country at the Schools International made me more motivated to keep progressing up through the ranks to wear GB vests.”

However, it was in 2013 that Thomas improved the most. Full of confidence from his performances in 2012, he won the UK School Games and went about qualifying for the World Youths. Relieved to gain the time and earn selection, even Thomas himself did not expect to improve in every round and ultimately just miss out on a medal.

“I managed to run three PBs in three races,” he says. “I knew after running in the semi-final that I was running well, but I never thought I would be able to run 20.84 and come fourth.

“The experience was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to what I hope will be a long career.”

Coming from a keen running family, Thomas used to go to 10km races with his parents and do the fun run. However, from the age of 10, the talented all-rounder played rugby union and only started athletics aged 14 in an attempt to improve his speed for rugby. Part of the Leeds Carnegie Rugby Academy and a former England under-16s team member, Thomas has decided to focus on athletics for 2014.

He explains: “I broke my wrist in September and, having been selected on to the British Athletics Futures programme, I decided to see what I could achieve this year.”

Coached by Geoffrey Barraclough, Thomas boasts PBs of 10.6 and 49.3 for the 100m and 400m respectively and feels his strength might lie over the longer sprints in the future. But at the moment he is content on enjoying his running while studying for a BTEC in sport, science and engineering.

When he leaves school, Thomas wants to become a PE teacher. “I like the idea of helping others reach their potential, as my PE teachers have really helped motivate me,” he says.

You can find further performance stats on Thomas on Power of 10 here.

» Support young athletics via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk