THE prize of a trip to Australia for the 2018 Commonwealth Games is tantalisingly getting closer and closer for Trowbridge junior international high jumper Tom Gale, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

Gale is pushing the bar higher and higher this season and last weekend in Bedford he improved his personal best for the fourth time in barely a week as he cleared 2.30m, adding two centimetres to the height he cleared for third place at the European Under 20 Championships in Italy the previous weekend.

Moreover, that clearance secured him not only his first senior medal with victory in the England Athletics Championships but also lifted him to second in the UK Rankings behind 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz.

“I just seem to like personal bests, they are fun to collect,” said Gale.

“I just did not expect to jump 2.30m at the weekend having just come back from the Europeans in Italy and the atmosphere at Bedford wasn’t quite like Italy.

“But of course I am happy, very happy.”

By rights Gale should never have performed that well after the best performance of his career in Italy, when he bettered his PB three times to make the podium and claim his first international medal.

Throw in a seven hours delay in the flight back to the UK and no-one would have blamed him if he hadn’t even made the podium.

But the former John of Gaunt School student isn’t like other athletes.

“I don’t follow trends apparently,” added Gale. “In some ways jumping 2.30m in Bedford was a little frustrating as if it would have been nice to have done that in Italy. But I had some luck as I twice hit the bar really hard and it didn’t fall off.

“I also only cleared 2.26m on my third attempt and 2.30m on my second attempt. After that I was shattered and after two efforts at 2.34m I called it a day as I had tweaked my ankle.”

Gale will be back in action for England in the Manchester International on Wednesday, August 16 and has also received an invite for the Muller Grand Prix in Birmingham on Sunday, August 20.

If he can clear the Commonwealth Games qualifying standard of 2.26m in both those fixtures then Gale’s claim for a place on the England team for Brisbane will be stronger than ever.

“I have jumped the standard twice now and moved to second in the UK Rankings behind Robbie by just one centimetre,” said Gale.

“It would be great to go to the Commonwealths and also the European Championships next year as that would be good development for me but I also know I am still very young so we’ll see.

“I just need to keep working hard and say clear of injury.”