GREAT Britain athletics chiefs have backed Tom Gale’s Olympic ambitions for 2020 by promoting him up a level within their World Class Programme funding programme.

The Trowbridge international high jumper had previously been on the Futures Programme for promising young athletes but after a season in which he won bronze at the European Junior Championships and improved his personal best to 2.30m to help earn selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, he has been elevated to the Olympic Podium Potential squad.

That is a huge vote of confidence by the British team bosses in the 19-year-old and will certainly help him in his long-term ambition to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I am so grateful to British Athletics for taking note of my improvement and giving me this opportunity,” said Gale. “It is a great honour.”

Gale will now receive a higher level of support from British Athletics across all sorts of areas, from physiotherapy, nutritional advice to sports psychology plus financial backing for training.

“I was getting this sort of help before but it will now be on a more regular basis and at a higher level,” added Gale.

“It is going to make my life a lot easier and will open doors for me. I don’t feel under an extra pressure because of it but I have an expectation myself to justify the support.

“I am confident in my own ability and in the ability of my coach that I can repay the faith the management have put in me.

“My coach told me that quite a few athletes had been taken off funding so I feel very grateful that I am now in the Olympic Podium Potential squad with the likes of established British internationals like fellow high jumper Robbie Grabarz and sprinter Dina Asher-Smith.

“In the meantime it is a case of keep training hard and preparing for next year.”

There was sad news from within the athletics community this week with the death of Wiltshire county official Melvyn Potter, who lived in Chippenham.

“Melvyn died peacefully in the RUH in Bath on Friday afternoon,” said Team Bath AC coach and friend Di Viles.

“He had been admitted the previous week and was in the cardiac ward, with Shirley by his side , when he died. He was 64.”