Millfield hurdler breaks 36-year British record at National Athletics Championships

Millfield Sixth Form hurdler Lucy-Jane Matthews from Salisbury broke celebrated British Olympian Sally Gunnell’s 36-year British age 17 100m hurdle record at the 2020 British Championships in Manchester.

Lucy-Jane gained a personal best and finished the race in 13.20 seconds at the competition in early September 2020.

The new record comes after Lucy-Jane made her senior England debut in the 60m hurdles at the Élan Indoor Athletics Meeting in January. Lucy was also selected as one of only 46 national athletes to take part in the British Athletics Olympic and Paralympic Futures Programme for 2020 last year.

1992 Olympic Gold medallist and British legend Sally Gunnell set the British U17 100m hurdles record in 1984 at Crystal Palace, with Lucy beating the 13.30 time by one tenth of a second. Sally was the only female British athlete to have won Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles, and was the first female 400 metres hurdler in history to win the Olympic and World titles and break the world record. 

Lucy-Jane joined Millfield in September 2019 on an Academic and Athletics (Headmaster’s) Scholarship and is studying for three A levels in Biology, Mathematics and Physical Education, as well as completing the extended project qualification (EPQ).

Lucy-Jane says, “I’m really proud to have set a new British age best in the hurdles, especially after the challenges this year presented. It’s hugely encouraging to get a glimpse of my capabilities and has certainly created another source of motivation for me. Looking ahead, I’m excited to work hard towards continuing my upward trajectory, achieving more technical competency with the guidance and coaching available to me at Millfield School and developing even more as an athlete both on and off the track.”

Millfield’s Director of Athletics and Lucy-Jane’s coach, Alan Richardson, says, “Lucy-Jane’s performance shows not only her exceptional talent but her work rate, effort and professionalism. In a summer affected by COVID-19 Lucy-Jane had to learn to be adaptable in her training methods and be positive and self-motivated. Her results showed her strength of character and resilience that saw her train and compete to such a high level. These are qualities that I am sure will see her continue to succeed over the coming years both on the track and in her academic endeavours.”

Recently chatting in a BBC Wiltshire radio interview, Olympian Sally Gunnell said, “Lucy deserves this, she is a very good prospect for British Athletics. She’s very talented and is so focused and dedicated, maintaining her studies alongside her training as well. It’s wonderful to see someone who has so many attributes that make a champion achieve great things, it’s very exciting.”

Millfield has helped support the development of 24 Olympians in its short history, with representation at every Olympic Games since 1956. Notable former pupils include swimmer Duncan Goodhew (Gold and Bronze, Moscow 1980), hockey player Stephen Batchelor (Bronze and Gold, LA 1984 and Séoul 1988) and athlete Mary Bignal-Rand (Gold, Silver and Bronze, Tokyo 1964). A number of former Millfield pupils are likely to receive call-ups for the upcoming 2021 summer Olympics in Tokyo, with Millfield’s Director of Swimming Euan Dale already being named as a Team GB coach, supporting Great Britain’s swimming squad.

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