by Alex Hoad
Talented teenage athletes from across Kent have been chosen to receive support and mentoring by the county's own Olympic athlete Jack Green.
Former Ashford AC star Green, 21, represented TeamGB at London 2012, reaching the semi-finals of the 400m hurdles and finishing just 0.10secs out of bronze medal position in the 4x400m relay.
Green, from Hythe, has handpicked 13 talented youngsters from across the county to form part of the Green Machine Sport talent squad.
Folkestone School for Girls pole vault star Ellie Gooding, 16, is ranked joint-1st in the UK at under-17 level just a year after taking up the event.
Gooding's Ashford AC teammate, Sittingbourne multi-eventer Rhiannon Wallwork, 15, a Highsted Grammar School pupil, formerly of Invicta East Kent AC, was seventh in the England Combined Events Championships last August and is also Kent Schools long-jump champion.
Invicta East Kent AC sisters Bobby and Alex Clay, from Wingham, are among the cream of under-20 distance runners in the UK.
Bobby, who doesn’t turn 16 until May, won the cross-country race at the World Schools Championships in Malta last year, with 17-year-old Alex finishing fourth.
Bobby Clay is also an English national champion at cross-country, the 1,500m and 800m while Alex is a national champion over 3,000m, was 19th in the European Cross-Country Championships in Hungary last month and fourth in the Great Edinburgh International meeting in Edinburgh, one place ahead of her sister, who also attends Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich.
Tonbridge School's Charlie Harris, 16, one of four members of Tonbridge AC in the GMS squad, was fifth in the English Schools Championships 400m hurdles last July.
His teammate Sean Molloy, 17, a pupil at Westlands School in Sittingbourne, competed in the 800m at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona in July, finishing fourth in his heat,
Distance runner Max Nicholls, 16, a pupil at Ashford School, was second in the Kent County Cross-Country Championships earlier this month.
Charing thrower Matthew Blandford, 17, another Tonbridge AC member, is English Schools discus champion.
The squad also includes Bexley AC 400m runner Farren Morgan and pole vault ace Ailis McGovern, aswell as 16-year-old Blackheath & Bromley AC sprint twins Shannon and Cheriece Hylton and Dina Asher-Smith, 17, who hopes to land a place in TeamGB for the forthcoming European Indoor Championships.
The group will receive career support and mentoring from Green and his network of contacts, with regular seminars about life in athletics.
Maidstone-born former Brockhill pupil and Mid-Kent College pupil Green explained: “The focus is on their own athletics careers and their academics and we just want to support that. We’re there if we’re needed.”
Despite only turning 21 himself in October, the European under-23 Champion revealed: “I thought it was the right time to do it, despite being at a young age and me not really having won anything yet.
"This is my legacy. It’s something I wanted to do at the end of my career but I thought I should do it now because legacy is very current with the London Olympics."
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