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Holly Archer hopes SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships glory can inspire next generation at Cambridge & Coleridge AC

Tom Keen, left, and Holly Archer, right, with their medals from the SPAR British Indoor Athletics Championships. Picture: Mark Vile
Tom Keen, left, and Holly Archer, right, with their medals from the SPAR British Indoor Athletics Championships. Picture: Mark Vile

Holly Archer hopes a glorious gold at the SPAR British Athletics Indoor Championships can inspire the next generation of athletes at Cambridge & Coleridge Athletics Club.

The 25-year-old surged to an impressive victory in the 1,500m at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, claiming her first national accolade.

It was soon followed by a silver medal for 18-year-old team-mate Tom Keen in the 1,500m, while a third Cambridgeshire athlete, Bottisham-based Ben Snaith won a bronze medal in the 200m.

With support and sponsorship from employers Cycle Pharmaceuticals, Archer has been able to devote more time to her athletics this year, including a spell of overseas training in Colorado in January.

It reaped rewards in Scotland as Archer progressed through Saturday’s heats to reach Sunday’s final, where she produced a polished performance for victory.

She got into the perfect position before striking for the front with 300m remaining, winning in 4min 21.99sec.

While aware of the absence of leading British runners Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie, Archer said: “It was incredible. I’m trying to look at it from a confidence level of how I raced and how I felt. From this time last year, it’s a massive step up.

“I feel really good. Going into the race, we saw the line-up and thought it was gold or nothing so I think I would have been very disappointed with silver just because I know where I’m at, I know what I’m capable of and I know I’m a good racer.

“I’m thrilled that I pulled off what I set out to do and that was to win and put myself in a position to win the whole time, so I’m happy with the way I raced.

“I’ve got a lot of work to do for outdoors because it’s a big year with the Olympics so I’ve just got to keep using this good feeling and put it into my training.

“This has done me a world of good for exposure, people taking me seriously and getting into good races next year, so hopefully it’s opened a few doors.”

Forty minutes after Archer’s gold medal exploits, team-mate Keen was on the track in the final of the men’s 1,500m.

He had looked at ease in qualifying, having already set a British junior record this season.

The teenager was in contention throughout before George Mills kicked clear on the final lap to win in 3.50.69 as Keen earned an impressive silver in 3.52.40.

“Tom followed me up brilliantly,” said Archer. “Whenever we run at the same meet, we follow each other up and we always seem to race well backing up each other because we watch each other thinking ‘if they can do it, then I can do it’.

“He is so cool and calm going into his races. He is learning so much without even knowing it at this point. He has got a lot of years left, and he is getting experience.

“He ran incredibly. It was just a really good day for Cambridge and all the juniors watching it.”

With the C&C middle distance training group encompassing a wide range of athletes, from youngsters just starting out to seniors, Archer hopes the performances can provide a good example.

“I really want to encourage grassroots, such as the little girls at training,” she said. “Hopefully they can see that I’ve done it and stick at it, stick at training, keep turning up and keep going to competitions at the weekend. It is doable.

“Hopefully that message gets out to them, keeps them out of trouble and keeps them at the club because it’s so good for them and their families to be part of the sport.”

Snaith earned his medal in the one-lap event.

He was first in his heat and second in the semi-finals to book a spot in the 200m final.

Andrew Morgan-Harrison won the gold medal in 21.20, and Snaith secured the bronze medal in a season’s best 21.47.

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