WHEN middle-distance runner Will Rabjohns tried out his first-ever junior parkrun, he never knew it would lead to him representing Team England at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

The 17-year-old from Wimborne fancied himself as more of a footballer on the wing, but quickly realised his stamina was a lot higher than the other kids on the Sturminster Marshall FC pitch.

The Queen Elizabeth's School student will travel to Trinidad and Tobago in August where he will compete in the 1500m event and be among 1,000 young athletes aged 14-18, from Nations and Territories across the Commonwealth.

The seventh edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games will take place between August 4-11 after the 2021 Youth Games were suspended due to the impact of the pandemic.

“When I was in first school I played football and started sprinting, but I don’t think it was my main strength,” he said  

“I did some junior parkruns on a Sunday morning in Poole where I met some people who told me to join Poole Athletics Club.

“I started off doing cross-country at first in the winter but then transferred to the track every summer which I loved.

“It was great to get a qualifying time for the Games and find out I’d been selected.

“It’s going to be crazy going to Trinidad and Tobago, I’m really looking forward to it and it should be really exciting.

“I’m hoping to do my best, there are some very good athletes from around the world that are going to be there but I’m going to give it all I’ve got.”

The young athlete has never competed outside the UK and Ireland but will now take his calm and collected spirit across the world.

A number of high-profile athletes first started their journey competing for Team England at previous Commonwealth Youth Games and have gone onto to achieve success at Senior Commonwealth Games including Jess Ennis-Hill, Dina Asher-Smith, Tom Dean and Alex Yee.

Rabjohns finds himself with the same drive and is excited to take competing for England at British Schools one step further with Team England.

“One day in the future, moving on to Senior Commonwealths would be a dream,” he added.

“I make sure I get the training in on a consistent basis and try to do as much school work as I can.

“Even though it’s hard, I try to spend time with my friends as well, it’s just about trying to get a good mix.

“I’m quite calm when it comes to races which will be a huge benefit.

“I don’t really get that nervous in the big events which helps me keep my cool and try and run the best race that I possibly can.”

Follow Team England’s performances at Trinbago 2023 at www.teamengland.org #BringItHome