high jump2A YOUNG athlete is reaching new heights after becoming one of the best high jumpers in the country.

Barnard Castle School sixth former Rory Holden took first place in the U20s indoor North of England Athletics Championships, staged in Sheffield.

The 17-year-old, of Marrick, in Swaledale, managed a staggering 2.03m in the high jump competition, which was still shy of his personal best but 9cm higher than his best jump at the Barnard Castle School Sports Day last year.

Rory said: “I was really pleased with my jump, especially as it is the first real competition of the season.”

Now placed third nationally in the U20 age group, he has also easily qualified for the English (U20) Championships, to be held on February 13 in Gateshead.

Before then he plans to increase the intensity of training at school and his local club, Darlington Harriers.

Later in the year he will compete in the Outdoor National U20 Championships, scheduled for June in Bedford.

After completing his A Levels in the summer Rory plans to take a year out to focus on his training so he can compete at the highest level.

Rory said: “I have always been a good high jumper but only took up serious training last year when I was challenged by the school’s strength and conditioning coach and head of athletics to clear 2.00m.

“With his help during school time and expert coaching at my club, I have managed to reach 2.05m and hope to better that this year.”