FOR Trowbridge junior international high jumper Tom Gale, Saturday evening is his date with destiny, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The success he has already achieved this summer in winning three national titles – the England Athletics U20s titles indoors and outdoors and last week retaining his English Schools’ title – have been consigned to the scrapbook and the fate of his season will come down to one competition.

The European U20 Championships is the most important event of the year for junior athletes and, from a very strong Great Britain squad, 18-year-old, Gale is one of the country’s best hopes of a medal.

That is a responsibility that Gale carries lightly on his shoulders but the Team Bath athlete is fully aware of what is expected of him in Grosseto, Italy.

“My coach and I have been preparing for this competition all year and it has been our sole focus,” said Gale, who is a student at the John of Gaunt School.

“I have been working very hard, especially on refining my technique and now it is time to deliver. I am partly quite nervous but I am also very excited as I really enjoy competing especially when there is such a strong field like there will be in Italy.

“Last year with the World Junior Championships I hardly expected to even get there but for the Europeans I am hoping to win a medal.”

That expectancy is not just wishful thinking.

When Gale lines up for the qualifying heat on Thursday, he will have the self-belief and confidence of an athlete who is second in the European rankings after raising his personal best to 2.23m to win the Welsh International Games in Cardiff last week.

“I am not ranked top (Maksim Nedasekau of Belorussia has cleared 2.26m) so I wouldn’t be dissatisfied with a medal of any colour,” added Gale.

“My recent personal best has given me a massive boost going to Italy and I know if I get everything right I can really achieve something.

“In that respect I have had to change my mentality. I know I cannot expect to go there and win a medal but I know I am capable of doing that and that is how I am preparing.

“I would be so happy if I came home to Trowbridge with a medal.”