IT was not quite the perfect English Schools finale for Poppy Lake but the Southend High School for Girls’ pupil still looks back on her championship career with pride.
High jumper Lake, 18, won a silver medal in her sixth and final English Schools Championships in Birmingham on a day she was made captain of the Essex team.
Lake had her heart set on winning the competition for the second time in her career and was disappointed to only jump 1.73m.
But after some reflection, the Chelmsford AC athlete – who has suffered with niggling injuries and illness this summer - realised she could hold her head up high.
“I really thought I would win, but it just didn’t happen,” said Lake. “I felt good in training, good in the warm up, but I couldn’t get to where I wanted.
“It’s been an average outdoor season for me really and that sums it up.
“I know 1.73m is a decent height, but for me personally, it’s a lot lower than my PB. It’s nine centimetres lower and that’s a lot, so I’m disappointed with that. But that’s three silvers and one gold medal I’ve won in my six championships and that’s a big achievement.”
Lake will now move on to, hopefully, Loughborough University, but said the English Schools Championships and her time at Southend High will never be forgotten.
“Not too many people compete at six English Schools,” she said. “I really didn’t know the standard of the competition back at my first championships. I went as a confident junior looking to win and ended up not qualifying!
“Everyone aims for English Schools and a lot of great athletes who have gone on to do great things, never even won a medal at English Schools. So I feel very lucky.
“I have lots of good memories from this competition. It has really dipped me into the world of athletics. It’s amazing that I’ve been here for six years, I’m starting to feel old now.
“And leaving Southend High was heartbreaking. I have grown up there. I’m a Southend girl and I always will be, but everyone has to move on. I’m taking a leap forward now and I’m hopefully going to Loughborough University. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m hoping it will lead to bigger and better things.”
Lake will now turn her full attentions to next season where she has her sights firmly set on representing Great Britain at the European Junior Championships.
“Bit and bobs are missing from my jumping at the moment,” she said. “I know once I have ironed those problems out I can go for 1.85m. I know I’m capable of that and the European Juniors will be a big aim for me next year and I believe I could win a medal.”