Guernsey Press

Rising star Darcey bags U15 island record over two laps

DARCEY HODGSON put a testing season behind her to beat a particularly well-regarded junior island 800m record in Oxford last weekend.

Darcey Hodgson in foreground. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 31262904)

The 14-year-old ran a personal best of 2min. 15.85sec. to secure bronze for Hampshire at the Southern Inter Counties Championships, so nearly catching Kent’s Megan Barlow on the line as Essex’s Natasha Wynn flew to victory.

She wrested the Guernsey U15 record from Katie Rowe – a notable youth talent – who had run 2-16.74 to win Hampshire gold in 2012. Less prominent in more recent years, Rowe nevertheless took bronze at the Gibraltar 2019 Island Games.

Athletics development officer Tom Druce called Rowe’s U15 mark ‘one of the tougher age-group records on the books’ and praised Hodgson for taking it.

‘The fact it stood to the reigning Island Games bronze medallist will also add fuel for Darcey for a home Island Games next year – though I would urge her to treat those Games as a developmental experience at such a young age,’ he said of an athlete who is just old enough to be eligible for Guernsey 2023.

The capable multi-eventer also placed seventh in the 75m hurdles.

Although Hodgson claimed England U15 indoor bronze over 800m in the winter, suffering her first real setback in athletics – a back injury in May – knocked her confidence a lot, according to coach Nick Marley.

‘Building that confidence back up, without wanting to put any undue pressure or expectation on such a young athlete, was a real challenge,’ he said.

‘It involved lots and lots of reassurance, trying to always keep everything really positive and encouraging, while also reiterating having trust in her training and training times, which were comparable to pre-injury.’

Marley called breaking the Guernsey U15 record over 600m in July, running 1-37.38, ‘the first step’ and said her 2-17.17 800m at last month’s Nationals proved to her she could run her target time for 2022.

‘The Inter Counties event proved just the right combination of a good level of competition coupled with an end-of-season pressure-free event feel – and the resulting record time followed.’

Druce added: ‘It’s fantastic for Darcey to see that step forward late in the season after a year fairly typical of a youth athlete, with lots of ups and downs.’