Harry Hughes insists he is moving in the right direction at last after fighting through the pain to land gold at the Sainsbury’s School Games.
The 16-year-old Stowmarket resident was undoubtedly one of the stars of the Games as 1,600 athletes descended on Manchester to compete in 12 sports across four action-packed days.
Hughes, who attends King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, grimaced through a niggling back injury to win javelin gold for his South East team with a best throw of 68.24m.
But, more than anything, it was just a relief to be on the runway for Hughes, who believes he can put his injury woes behind him to attack next year afresh.
“It was a good way to top off the year,” he said. “I wasn’t too bothered about what I was going to throw this year — I’ve had a really hard season so to finish on this is a really good high.
“I’ve been injured for a year now. I’ve got a severe back injury so I’ve barely been able to throw all season.
“Towards the end of hours and hours of rehab I’m slowly getting better.
“So just being able to throw I’m over the moon and being able to win this is even better.
“This is a landmark. I’m still in a lot of pain and I had to ice it straight after and go and see the physio, but it’s still definitely a good sign.
“It’s a good time to wind things down — I’ll have three weeks off, get some more rehab done after that, and then start winter training, get some really good conditioning and strengthen my back up.”
The School Games has helped to launch the careers of a host of British athletes, including heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, who were on hand to watch in Manchester.
And Hughes, who is a member of West Suffolk Athletics Club, wants nothing more than to follow in the footsteps of former world junior champion Johnson-Thompson with success at youth level in 2015.
“Next year my target is to get to the European juniors,” he added. “I know it’s a pretty high target, but I think you’ve always got to have high expectations and I think you’ve also got to have realistic ones.
“I’m looking to get on to the British team and go off to the European juniors.”
The Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, was held in venues across Manchester from September 4-7 — visit www.2014schoolgames.com for more information.