Maria follows in the footsteps of athletics heroes with silver at the ‘mini-Olympics’

Maria Hollingsworth claimed silver in Birmingham on Sunday
Maria Hollingsworth claimed silver in Birmingham on Sunday

BOSTON’S Maria Hollingsworth was left toasting a job well done on Sunday after etching her name alongside Olympic medallists Kelly Sotherton and Mark Lewis-Francis with silver at the Aviva Sportshall UK Final in Birmingham.

The 14-year-old - who celebrates her 15th birthday on Friday - helped herself to silver in the standing long jump with a best leap of 2.39m, while also finishing fourth in the shot put and seventh in the four-lap relay.

Her success across the board was enough to see the Boston and District Athletic Club ace end the all-round competition with her second medal of the day – a bronze.

And after writing her name into the sportshall history books alongside the likes of Sotherton and Lewis-Francis – who tasted success in 1992 and 1998 respectively – Hollingsworth was more than satisfied with her days’ work.

“It felt really good to have done well at Sportshall and to get a couple of medals was a nice feeling and it was a good day,” said Hollingsworth.

“To compete against such good competition was also really good fun and I enjoyed it.

“My parents were proud of me and my school friends will be really happy for me.”

The Aviva Sportshall is part of the Aviva Athletics Academy which encourages and enables children to get involved in athletics.

And Hollingsworth’s efforts at Birmingham’s LG Arena didn’t go unnoticed with current Aviva GB & NI Team heptathlete Louise Hazel there to cheer her on.

And Hazel – who claimed gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi – believes Hollingsworth is well placed for a bright future in athletics after a storming start.

“It is nice to see Maria having fun, enjoying athletics and that is how it should be really,” Hazel said.

“For me being a heptathlete it is great to see everyone getting a go at a bit of every discipline whether it be running, throwing or jumping.

“Sportshall is a great insight into athletics and it gives Maria a great opportunity to give something different a go because at school you don’t always know what you are good at.

“It is like a little mini-Olympics and it is a great beginning for Maria and hopefully is just the start of her athletics journey.”

Also competing in Birmingham was BADAC’s Oliver Smith.

He produced an excellent performance in the under 15 boys’ two-lap event, attacking the reversaboards and finishing a very close second in his heat.

His speed bounce result showed a remarkable improvement as he scored 83.

Like Maria, he revelled in the challenge of the competition provided at the national final.

In the standing long jump Oliver cleared 2.55m to complete a trio of fine performances at the NEC.

Aviva has been supporting British athletes since 1999 and paving the way for the next generation.

Get involved in the Aviva Athletics Academy at aviva.co.uk/athletics