Upton Junior School in Broadstairs has come to the aid of young athletes by holding its own southeastern qualifying heat of the national biathlon championships.

Would-be contestants and their families from the region faced the arduous task of a trip of around 80 miles simply to get to the nearest centre that was holding the heats at Whitgift in Surrey.

Instead, the school staged its own qualifiers for the cycling and swimming heats – a 400m run and 25m swim for the under 9 category and an 800m run and 50m swim for the 9 to under 12 section.

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Competitors travelled from as far away as Berkshire and Norfolk for the event that saw more than 70 young hopefuls, including 20 from Upton, take to the specially created running circuit and the school’s community swimming pool.

The top 100 children around the country will take part in the National Biathlon Finals in 2020 that will be held at either Crystal Palace or the Olympic Park in London – competitors will now have to wait until January when timings of all young biathletes have been co-ordinated to see who reaches the finals.

Head of School Darci Arthur said: “This event is the first of its kind in Thanet and is part of our Beacon Schools status commitment to sport.

“Simply travelling all that way to take part is demanding, and that is before competing, and then getting home again.

“Well done to our sports coach Callum Noble for leading on this event with support from our staff, parent helpers and volunteers, and for providing yet another opportunity for local children”.

Mr Noble added: “We decided to organise our own biathlon qualifiers and the support we received was fantastic. A huge ‘well done’ goes to all our swimmers and runners who were amazing – we look forward to seeing you all next year for our next event.”

Upton Junior School is part of the Viking Academy Trust with Chilton Primary School, Ramsgate, and Ramsgate Arts primary School.

*For more information contact Head of School Darci Arthur on 01843 861393.