RAYLEIGH teenager Robert Runciman was involved in arguably the most dramatic head-to-head of the England Indoor Championships – against his friend and training partner.
After seeing off all their rivals, Runciman and his Chelmsford AC pal Thomas Hewes went into a virtual jump-off in the under-15 boys high jump final.
Both teenagers quite literally raised the bar as they spurred each other on to the performance of their lives.
Sweyne Park School pupil Runciman, 14, leaped a huge 10 centimetres higher than he has ever done before to clear 1.86m – but so did Hewes and with the latter’s better record on countback, he won gold and Runciman had to settle for silver.
“It wasn’t good for my nerves,” laughed Robert’s dad Richard. “They were on their own, jumping against each other for quite a while because the boy who won third went out at 1.75m.
“So they jumped 1.80m, 1.83m, 1.86m and then both attempted 1.89m together. I think they were pretty exhaused by the end.”
Both Runciman and Hewes are coached at Chelmsford by Phil Sergeant who described it as an “amazing achievement”.
And Richard Runciman said the pair’s rivalry is driving each of them along.
Their 1.86m clearances mean they both sit on top of the national rankings and with them due to meet again in Chelmsford on March 16, they could go even higher.
“It’a friendly rivalry,” said dad Richard. “They are doing each other a favour because their pushing each other to go higher and higher.
“Phil has done a fantstic job with them. It’s not often you see two athletes from the same club in the top two of a national high jump competition.”
Runciman is back in Sheffield this weekend for the England Combined Events Championships.
He is ranked number one in the country for the pentathlon and will be hoping to come back with another medal.
Meanwhile, another Runciman may also be a name to look out for in the future.
Lauren, Robert’s sister, finished 11th in the under-15 girls shot-putt at the national championships.
She is in the first year of the under-15 age group and dad Richard feels she will really shine in the hammer event when the outdoor season begins.