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Connor Neal wins 400m gold at the England Athletics Championships in personal best time

Connor Neal stayed on his feet to win 400m gold at the England Athletics Championships.

Neal, 20, put so much into the under-23s final at Bedford on Sunday, he thought he was going to fall over.

Connor Neal tops the podium at Bedford
Connor Neal tops the podium at Bedford

But the Thanet AC athlete, a 2024 Olympic hopeful, kept going and won gold in a personal best time of 47.27sec.

“I was just hoping for a medal, I can’t believe I won gold,” said Neal, who a day earlier won his heat in 48.13.

“When it came to the last 100m, I was giving everything. I found an extra gear and managed to pull away.

“I thought I was going to fall over at one point but I managed to stay on my feet and I won by 0.2sec. I was over the moon.”

Neal, who’s studying sport and exercise science at St Mary’s University in London, is in great form as he works towards his next goal of representing Great Britain at the European Under-23 Championships in Finland next year.

He also harbours Olympic ambitions and could yet qualify for the 2024 Games in Paris if he keeps improving at his current rate, having bettered his PB by almost a second in the space of two weeks.

“I’ve had a really good six weeks of training,” said Neal, who joined Thanet AC at the age of eight.

“I normally compete every week or so, I did a couple of 200s to get my speed up, but then I took around three weeks off to focus on training, which has really helped.

“I’m definitely aiming for the 4x400m relay at the European Championships and hopefully, if all goes well, I’ll have a chance of competing in the individuals, but there’s a lot of good under-23s around.

"My dream is to compete at the Olympics and, with the rate I’m improving at, 2024 is definitely possible.

“We’ve got to wait and see but it’s really exciting to think I could be two years away from the Olympics.

"I’ve improved by almost three seconds in two years, so I’m definitely improving at a faster rate than pretty much anyone else.

“I’ve had a lot of coaches I’ve seen around come over and congratulate me and loads of athletes as well, people I’ve never talked to before, so it’s not gone unnoticed.”

Fellow Thanet AC athlete George Seery finished third in the under-20 men’s hurdles at Bedford in 53.45.

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