TOM Gale will fly out to Italy for the European Junior Championships with the Great Britain squad next Tuesday in high spirits after completing a hat-trick of national titles, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The 18-year-old Trowbridge international high jumper was already the reigning England Athletics U20s champion outdoors and indoors and on Saturday he added the senior boys’ title at the English Schools’ Championships.

That is a towering achievement by anyone’s standard and the John of Gaunt School student came close to putting an extra special stamp on his success when he went agonisingly close to beating the championship record of 2.25m.

“I was a great competition and I was really happy to clear 2.22m to retain my title,” said Gale.

“I hate to say it but the crowd were far more supportive than they were the previous week at the British Championships.”

As the senior athlete in the field Gale played a leading role in encouraging the supporters to take part in the event by orchestrating the rhythmic clapping that the athletes love to hear when preparing to jump.

“They really got behind the high jumpers with their clapping and it was an incredible atmosphere,” added Gale.

Gale cleared all heights up to and including 2.18 on first attempts and then went over 2.22 at his second attempt to secure the title. He then had three good attempts at 2.26m before bowing out to generous applause from an appreciative crowd.

Remarkably, Gale’s success was one of three gold medals for Wiltshire with the other two coming from St John’s School & Community College student Thomas Holmes in the junior boys’ javelin and Salisbury athlete Anna Merritt (Godolpin School) in the junior girls’ discus.

There was also a superb bronze for Devizes teenager Ransford Ako’Nai in the junior boys’ long jump.

The 14-year-old St Augustine’s Catholic College student showed he has the temperament for the big occasion as he unleashed a personal best of 6.10m to finish third.

“Again we had problems with his run-up on a very difficult runway at the Alexander Stadium but once we sorted out that Ransford produced a brilliant jump,” said his coach Julie Alexander.

“But I know there is much more to come from him.”

The fifth and final medal for the county came from Beatrice Wood (South Wilts Grammar School) in the junior girls’ 1500m.

“To win five medals is an incredible achievement for a small county,” said Gale, who was the boys’ team captain.

“Our athletes put so much heart into the competition and I was so proud to be part of the team in my final appearance at the championships.”

Caitlin Wosika had high hopes in the senior girls’ 1500m steeplechase but she was taken out over one of the jumps and fell heavily.

That was her race over but the John of Gaunt School student bravely carried on to limp across the finish line in 12th place.

Sprinter Zoe Matttacks suffered bad luck as she injured her foot in the 100m while Ellie Mount also limped out of the semi finals of the 80m hurdles after winning her heat.

All-rounder Rory Howorth ran a personal best of 57.71secs in his heat of the inter boys’ 400m hurdles before finishing eighth in the final.

English Schools’ Track & Field Championships, Birmingham .

Wiltshire (selected results) – Senior boys 1500: 5 Jaymee Domoney 4:01.69; HJ: 1 Tom Gale 2.22; HJ: 14 Johan Warensjo 1.91; J: 11 Jake Burkey 5.97.

Inter boys – 400H: 8 Rory Howorth 57.81; LJ: 14 Marcin Olech 6.25; TJ: 9 Aaron Campbell 12.66; Hammer: 16 Josh Ricketts 46.64.

Junior boys – LJ: 3 Ransford Ako’nai 6.10; 17 Will Scammell 5.51; Jav: 1 Thomas Holmes 53.42; Hammer: 13 Owen Merrett 33.19; Senior girls – 1500S/C: 12 Caitlin Wosika 5:13.29.

Inter girls – Javelin: 7 Ottilie Knight 41.40.

Junior girls – 1500: 3 Beatrice Wood 4:32.41; HJ: 11= Molly Hole 1.57; Discus: 1 Anna Merritt 34.00; Javelin: 8 Megan Galpin 35.82; Hammer: 10 Katie Loach 30.97.