This has been a truly fantastic season for Harrogate Harriers junior athlete George Mills, we always knew he was pretty special and under the watchful eye of his coach Jo Day he has matured into a truly formidable runner and one of whom the club is particularly proud. It’s going to be hard to do justice to his success this year, however we’ll give it a go:
The season started with Yorkshire Championships (always the first big event of the year), George was running well from the outset so the plan was to go for Peter Elliot’s U17 800M championship record (1.52.00), which had stood since the 1970s. He really went for it and with no competition to push him along missed it by just 0.25sec, a superb result given he was running from the front. He went on to run his next two 800M BMC races – which take place throughout the season – in a new PB of 1.51.73 and then, incredibly, yet another PB of 1.50.55! This qualified George for the World Youth Games in Columbia and was a massive and unexpected bonus, however this last race had been designed to peak him for the English Schools two weeks later and this had been the goal for two years, so very reluctantly George and Jo took the decision not to go to Columbia and this decision was supported by UKA. It was a big risk, but one that paid off.
George went to the English Schools Championships as planned and absolutely cruised it, winning both the heat and final convincingly and totally in control, much to everyone’s joy – it was a terrific result and one that will be written into the annals of English Schools athletics. The training and race preparation had been perfect and the rewards were quick to come: That victory and his 1.50.55 at the BMC races once again brought George to the attention of the UKA selectors and he was chosen to represent England at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa, his first international vest. As you might imagine, he was absolutely over the moon with this and was ranked as the UK’s no.2 behind Scotland’s Ben Greenwood, who incidentally George beat at last year’s UK Sainsburys Games!
It was back down to earth with a bump, all this success had to be built upon and it was back into training with a goal of peaking in September, this was hard work and a challenge for both George and the Harrogate Harriers coaching staff. Jo thought it would be a good idea to get another hard race in, so entered him in the Northern Championships at 400m, the goal being to generate some race sharpness. What happened took everyone by surprise: George took the field apart and ran a new PB of 49.09, ranking him 4th in the UK – and this wasn’t even his distance! The following day he easily won the 800m in an “embarrassingly slow” 1.59.08.
So, after travelling for almost three days George finally made it to Samoa and discovered that in his qualifying heat he had a Kenyan capable of running 800m in 1.46.00 – this was definitely taking things up a notch! The plan always was to qualify for the final and although the heat was very hard, he put up a serious fight to finish second in 1.52.25, Jo and the rest of the coaching staff were very pleased and it meant he was in with a serious chance of a medal, although the gold and silver were likely to be a contest between the Kenyan and Jamaican qualifiers. The final took place just 20 hours later and as they came in to the home straight, George was definitely in with a chance, but it wasn’t to be – he left it just a little bit late to come home 5th in a new PB of 1.50.89, Ben Greenwood taking bronze.
Throughout the season George has had to put in some seriously hard training and dedicate himself to his sport, plus do a lot of travel and acclimatise to different running environments – all this he handled fantastically well and he is a credit to his sport, his coach and the Club. All of us at Harrogate Harriers are incredibly proud of him, WELL DONE GEORGE!!