Gainsborough teen battles back from injury to earn Leicestershire vest for English Schools Championships at Gateshead

Heather Cooke, right, has won a place in the Leicestershire team for the English Schools Championships
Heather Cooke, right, has won a place in the Leicestershire team for the English Schools Championships

Teenage athletics star Heather Cooke has battled back from injury to earn selection for the Leicestershire squad for the English School Championships.

The Gainsborough youngster, who lives and studies at Loughborough College, was unable to train for seven weeks with a hamstring problem.

An attempted comeback in the Lincolnshire County Championships at Grantham saw her win the Under 20s 400m.

However, her hamstringwas not sufficiently recovered to run in the 400m hurdles, her main event.

Cooke’s main target then became to try to achieve a time of 66 seconds or better for the 400m hurdles that would make her eligible for selection for the

English School Championships.

Running for Scunthorpe Athletics Club in Middlesborough she ran 67.4 to win her race, and improved to 66.2m, taking second in Manchester at the Trafford Grand Prix.

A 66.3 at Spinkhill in high winds was followed by another frustrating 66.2 at Loughborough University on 10th June.

But in her final race before the selection deadline, the Under 20 Northern Athletics Championships at Sports City in Manchester, she ran a personal best of 65.65 and was called up to the Leicester team for the national event at Gateshead International Stadium on 10th and 11th July.

Cooke will run in the Under 20s 400m hurdles event.

Dad Gary said he was proud of her persistence.

“We are delighted with this news,” he said. “Heather worked hard when she was injured to do what training she was allowed to do and to get back to fitness.

“This has paid off and the selection is a nice reward.”