Isaac Akers carried his superb winter form, which saw him lift both the Under-17 titles at the English National and UK Inter Counties Championships, on to the track when he smashed his lifetime best over 3000m at the latest Watford open graded meeting.
Feeling good before the race Akers was hopeful of a fast time in perfect conditions against a strong field which included two of the country’s fastest Under-20s and also had one eye on the British Athletics qualifying standard of 8.32.0 required for the European Youth Games to be held at Tbilisi in Georgia in July.
The pace was steady in the early stages as the Market Harborough-based Corby AC runner held down a position in the top half-dozen.
As the pace quickened and the current Senior English National cross country runner-up Adam Hickey (Southend) went on to win in 8.09.77 it was left to Akers, who finished fifth, to win the battle of the Under-20s when he defeated Gus Cockle (8.19.67) and Alasdair Kinloch (8.20.98) and in the process sliced almost 17 seconds from his previous best with a superb run which saw him finish in 8.18.79.
Akers said: “I’m really pleased with my time and my performance so early in the season and feel confident I can go even faster in the next few races.
“My time along with that of Kinloch is well inside the qualifying time for the European Youth Games.
“But I feel that with such a small team of 26 athletes being selected I will probably have to go even faster.”