Frisby runner Mari Smith lands poignant medal at English Schools Championships

Mari Smith is presented with her English Schools' 800m bronze by former wiorld champion and Olympic medalist Steve Cram EMN-150716-154343002
Mari Smith is presented with her English Schools' 800m bronze by former wiorld champion and Olympic medalist Steve Cram EMN-150716-154343002
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Mari Smith signed off in style as she claimed a gutsy bronze medal at her final English Schools Track and Field Championships.

The Frisby middle distance runner made her last appearance at the championships as she prepares to begin university in the autumn.

She has a proud record in the national event, having qualified every year of her secondary school career, and it was fitting she would bow out with bronze in the 800m.

“I was really pleased to get something in my last one,” Smith said.

“I didn’t go into the race thinking I would medal because it’s really hard to get anything at the English Schools.

“Everyone raises their game and usually someone comes through and pulls something out of the bag.”

In this case it was North Yorkshire athlete Millie Howard who ran above her ranking to claim the silver medal behind winner Ellie Baker, from Hertfordshire.

It was not the only thing which proved unexpected in the final for Smith who battled back to take third in a decent time of 2min 09secs, just a handful of seconds behind her personal best.

She added: “My race plan was just to stick on the tail of whoever was taking the pace on and see what I could do.

“But it didn’t pan out like that at all. I was right at the back of the race and came round in the last 200m.

“It has given me a massive confidence boost for the rest of the season.”

It was Smith’s second medal at the championships, adding to the silver she won as a junior, but on two other occasions she finished in an agonising fourth.

But regardless of performance, times and finishing position, the English Schools mark the end of a chapter she will miss.

“I always think of the English Schools as being a special event because it is quite unique,” she said.

“It feels like the end of an era and it’s interesting to see what I’ll be doing next year.

“It’s good that it’s finished because it means I am moving on, but at the same time it’s quite sad.”