ACCRINGTON runners Leigh Lennon and Robbie Schofield are golden wonders after winning gold medals at the AVIVA English Track and Field School Championships.
And the teenagers will now represent Great Britain at the European Junior Championships in Serbia at the end of this month.
Both Leigh and Robbie were in the Under 20s 800m at Sheffield on the hunt for their first gold medal at the event where Dame Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe, Lord Sebastian Coe have tasted success in their early running careers.
"The plan was to go out from the front for both of them although Leigh had a bit of a head cold so we were worried," said coach and dad Don Lennon, with both athletes representing Lancashire at the prestigious event.
But neither disappointed. Leigh, 18, had a lot of pressure on her as she needed to win to book a Serbia spot and she also wanted to improve on the two bronze medals and one silver she had previously won at the championships.
"It was quite difficult for me because I was quite nervous going into the race with the pressure," said Lennon, who raced home in 2.08.12.
"I spoke to the selectors after the AAA’s and they said to me I had to win the race here to qualify for Europe.
"I was pleased with the race because I went out on my own from the start because I knew I had to win.
"I wouldn’t normally do that because, usually, I wait a little bit but because I knew I had to win I had to push."
Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, who acts as a mentor for Lennon after selecting the Accrington youngster to join her Aviva-funded on Camp with Kelly initiative, hailed the teenager’s performance.
"She showed guts and determination - she really wanted it and it meant a huge amount to her," said Holmes.
Robbie also needed a victory although he was chasing a time - 2.49.5 to qualify for Serbia - with his personal best 0.32 of a second off it.
He crossed the line in 1.50.32 but was still selected for Europe after some consistent shows.
"We were pleased for Robbie," said coach Don. "I have coached both Robbie and Leigh since they were 10-years-old and we made a 10-year plan five years ago and so far both of them have hit every target.
"It is just fantastic to have them both there and is is a phenomenan really having two middle distance runners from Accrington representing Great Britian.
"I think both have the talent and will to be world class athletes, not just at junior level but senior level too.
"Reaching the European Championships has exceeded expectations for both, especially for Leigh who is the youngest runner travelling - 18 months younger than a lot of the runners there.
"She is fulfilling a dream as she watched Kelly Holmes when she was 12 and always wanted to emulate her and she is now getting there. The big aim is for 2016 Olympics."
Leigh, ranked 12th best Under 20 in Europe, has finished her beauty course at Accrington and Rossendale College and has won a scholarship in America studying a sports coaching degree.
Robbie, ranked ninth best Under 20 at 800m in Europe, is due to go to Loughborough University to study physics.
The Aviva English Schools Track & Field Championships is part of Aviva’s commitment to giving every child in the UK the opportunity to get involved in athletics by 2012. For more information go to www.aviva.co.uk/athletics.