ATHLETICS legend Daley Thompson has backed Crewe student Hayley Jones for the 2012 London Olympics after she stormed to the top of the UK rankings.
Sprinter Hayley, who is studying A-levels at South Cheshire College, smashed a 20-year-old record as she took gold in the Senior Girls' 400m at the English Schools Track and Field Championships on Saturday.
The 17-year-old, from Stapeley, Nantwich, clocked 54.33secs while representing Cheshire in the final at Gateshead, beating former GB Junior international Jennifer Howell's 54.40secs, set in 1986.
The win propelled the former Crewe and Nantwich AC star, who now runs for Wigan Harriers, to the top of the UK Junior Women's 400m rankings. She is second overall in the 200m, with a 24:06pb.
Hayley said: 'The final was much quicker than the heats and I beat my personal best by two seconds. I don't know how I did it. It is still sinking in. I want to take my athletics career as far as possible, and would love to take part in the London Olympics.'
The championships are the pinnacle of the English Schools sporting calendar, with former winners including Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe, Denise Lewis, Jonathan Edwards and Seb Coe.
Thompson, who won gold at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, will offer coaching, guidance and inspiration to promising young athletes as part of a link-up with the English Schools Athletics Association.
He said: 'There is plenty of talent out there, and Hayley impressed.
'This bodes well for the future of athletics in this country up to the 2012 Olympics and beyond.'
Meanwhile, Stevie Stockton, 17, from Coppenhall, clocked 10mins
23.00secs as she finished 15th in the Senior Girls' 3,000m, and three false starts made life hard for Sandbach School pupil Rob Blake, 15, from Elworth, in the Junior Boys' 100m final. He finished seventh in 11.63s.