GB star of the future?

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HUCKNALL’S Robert Needham admitted his post-race smile was delivered through gritted teeth after winning 800m bronze at the Aviva English Schools’ Track and Field Championships.

Needham (pictured with his medal) won the 800m title in last year’s competition, also held in Gateshead, but admitted a lapse in tactics cost him dearly in 2012 — ending with third place on the podium.

Surrey’s Zak Curran took the gold — in a time of 1 minute 52.30 seconds — and in the process gained revenge having had to settle for silver last year behind his Hucknall rival.

Needham was half a second back in claiming bronze and he admitted his display in Gateshead summed up his under-par season in 2012.

The 18-year-old was over a second outside his personal best and admitted the display had left him with mixed feelings about his weekend.

“I think the race went okay but I got in a bit of a mess around the top bend and I left myself with too much to do in the home straight but it wasn’t too bad overall,” he said.

“I am pretty pleased to medal but I would rather have won it. The season has been okay but it wasn’t as good as last season.

“I have been getting some more consistent times so I knew I was in with a good shot but the other two guys just ran a lot better than me.”

Needham followed in some illustrious footsteps by claiming another medal at the English Schools — London 2012-bound Jess Ennis, Jack Green and Hucknall Olympian Andy Turner having all started their careers at Aviva Athletics Academy schemes.

Needham, who is studying A-levels at Hucknall National Church Of England Academy, says he is planning a low-key end to his outdoor season.

“I have been to the Schools’ Championships three times and, having won it last year, it would have been nice to repeat it,” said Needham. “But I am happy with a medal.

“For the rest of the season, I just want to be competitive and run a few lead races for my club.

“It’s great fun to be part of a team and one day I hope to be part of the Aviva Great Britain team as a professional athlete. I am so excited that I’ll be watching my heroes at London 2012 and I hope it will make a huge difference for our athletes to know that we will all be backing the team.”

n AVIVA has been backing British athletes and the GB & NI Team since 1999. Now it’s your turn. #BackTheTeam or search for ‘Aviva Athletics’ on Facebook.