Athletics: Schoolgirl Spencer powers to sprint title

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The Independent Online

Amy Spencer, the Wigan prodigy, has always been ahead of her peers. Asked, in the wake of her breathtaking victory in the senior women's 200m final at the Norwich Union AAA Indoor Championships on Saturday, precisely when she discovered she could run fast, the 16-year-old schoolgirl replied: "In year three at primary school, when I raced against year sixes. My dad started an athletics group at the school after that."

The new star of British athletics had neglected to mention the outcome of her first test of speed. "I won," she said. And on the tight 200m track at the Welsh National Indoor Athletics Centre the winner of the BBC's first Young Sports Personality of the Year Award emerged victorious ahead of Sarah Reilly, a 28-year-old, who reached the semi-finals at the senior World Championships in Edmonton last August.

Spencer did so with a surge off the final bend so powerful as to suggest she will be soon racing against seniors on the international stage – at the Commonwealth Games in her home county, Greater Manchester, in July, if not at the European Indoor Championships in Vienna next month.

Spencer, the youngest winner of a AAA senior indoor title since Linsey Macdonald won the same event as a 15-year-old in 1980, was well short of the Vienna qualifying standard with her time on the slow Cardiff track, 23.74sec. She has clocked 23.44sec this season, just 0.04sec off the required mark, though whether she will go on a clock-chasing mission before the selection deadline a fortnight today is another matter.

"I'm just taking everything a step at a time," Spencer said, stressing the restraining influence of her father and coach, Graham, a former Wigan rugby league player. "The World Junior Championships in Jamaica this summer are my main aim on the track this year."