May 2014 Winner – Sommer Lecky
PROMISING young Castlederg athlete has set herself apart as one to watch after leaping to glory in the high jump at both the Ulster and All Ireland Schools Athletics Championships.
And the remarkable achievements of 13 year-old Sommer Lecky, a pupil at Strabane Academy, haven’t gone unnoticed.
Just last month the talented Derg girl represented Ulster at the Tailteann Interprovincial Games and after finishing runner-up has been selected for the Irish Schools team that will lock horns with its counterparts from England, Scotland and Wales in a Four Nations meeting in Cardiff later this month.
It’s been an amazing few weeks for the north Tyrone youngster and her sparkling accomplishements have earned the prodigious talent the Ulster Herald Sports Personality accolade for the month of May.
It’s a richly deserved award, particularly given that en route to Ulster glory Sommer cleared the bar set at a phenomenal 1.70 metres. That is the second highest jump in Ireland by any female, senior or junior, this year and in reaching such dizzy heights Sommer broke a club record (Finn Valley AC) that had stood for 26 years.
“The best I had ever managed in training was 1.66 metres so quite obviously I was delighted to clear 1.70, although at the time I still had to concentrate as I was attempting 1.73 metres,” said Sommer.
“In fairness my coach Niall had been telling me I was capable off jumping 1.70 so I was thrilled that I had managed it.”
That stunning Ulster success meant the Derg lass qualified to compete in the All Ireland Schools Athletics Championships in Tullamore.
Standing between Sommer and ultimate glory was Kilkenny’s finest Ciara Deeley who the Academy student had never beaten in competition.
However the Finn Valley athlete refused to let that statistic play on her mind and in a pressure cooker competition again struck gold.
Sommer failed to replicate the exceptional standards she set in the Ulsters but nevertheless produced another remarkable performance to capture the top spot on the podium with a jump of 1.63 metres.
“I was delighted to have won the competition and beat Ciara for the first time,” added Sommer
“We are great rivals when jumping but away from the heat of competition have become very good friends.”
A few weeks later though Deeley got her revenge when pipping the Derg girl in the Tailteann Games, however, finishing in the silver medal position had secured Sommer a place on the Irish Schools team for the first time and a ticket to the Four Nations meeting which takes place on July 19.
It’s goes without saying the golden girl of local athletics is relishing that particular trip.
“This is my first Irish Schools vest and I’m really looking forward to competing against girls from other countries,” she continued.
“It’ll be a tough tough challenge however it’ll give me an opportunity to measure myself against the best in the British Isles.”
As well as specialising in the high jump, Sommer is also an accomplished long jumper and indeed secured silver at the Ulsters before being edged out of the bronze medal position on countback in Tullamore.
She is considered by many as a naturally gifted jumper however a lot of her success is down to hard work, discipline and dedication on the training paddock.
The teenage sensation is cur- rently training four times a week and for the last two years has been working under the tutelage of Finn Valley coach Niall Wilkinson.
She also benefits from valuable support from family and friends and, in particular, mum and dad, Heather and Adrian, himself a coach at Finn Valley and a Ulster Schools bronze medal winner in triple and long jump way back in the early eighties.
Sommer appreciates that at times it is very much a team effort. “Niall has been my coach for two years now. He makes training fun and exciting, and is always looking for ways to improve me,” she added. “Dad always tells me he was a good jumper, but I’m not to sure! As for mum she likes coming to the competitions but sometimes gets over excited!
“All joking aside, both are a tremendous encouragement.
“I simply love athletics and want to do well, representing Irish Schools in Cardiff.
“I would love to some day compete at the Commonwealth Games or, if things really worked out for me, maybe even the Olympics.”
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