Harrow swimmer Leon Berchie has his sights firmly set on a successful summer after taking home 50m butterfly gold at the 2014 Balfour Beatty London Youth Games.
Berchie was one of the success stories of finals weekend at Crystal Palace, clocking 26.12 seconds to finish nearly a second ahead of his nearest challenger in the 50m butterfly.
It was the first time the Nower Hill High School pupil had stood on the top step of the podium at the Games in 12 attempts, having also competed at the Mini Youth Games.
And the 17-year-old is determined to carry his form at Europe’s largest annual youth sports event into next month’s ASA National Championships in Sheffield.
“It feels amazing to win gold for the first time at the London Youth Games. I enjoy winning and I’m a competitive person so it feels nice,” said Berchie, who is a member of Hillingdon Swimming Club.
“You are left on such a high because you are representing your borough so I feel like I’ve done my borough proud and put Harrow on the radar.
“When I woke up in the morning I was just thinking about competing at the Youth Games and doing myself proud.
“I hadn’t got as far as thinking that a medal was possible so I suppose it was a nice surprise.
“If you listen to the atmosphere, it’s such a fun place to compete with lots of support and you get to test yourself against the best young swimmers in London.
“Hopefully I can carry on my form into the Nationals. I want to try and make a couple of finals and maybe set a personal or season best.”
Harrow finished 21st in the overall Jubilee Trophy standings, a four place improvement on last year, with Wandsworth taking the title with a record haul of 1193 points.
In addition to Berchie’s gold, Harrow’s tennis team picked up a silver medal while their boy’s football side claimed bronze, losing 4-1 to eventual winners Lewisham at the semi-final stage.
And there was further success in the pool as 14-year-old Pavan Marwaha improved on her fourth-place finish last year to claim silver in the junior girls 50m backstroke.
“I’m really happy to have got a silver medal and that all my hard work paid off,” said Marwaha, who attends Hatch End High School.
“I’ve had fourth and now second so hopefully next year I can go one better and get the gold medal which is the one I really want.”
The London boroughs and Balfour Beatty invest in the London Youth Games to build stronger communities through competitive sport.