‘It has been an amazing couple of days’ was how Holly Mills summed up her experience at the Commonwealth Youth Games held in the Bahamas. Firstly she was chosen by Commonwealth Games England to be the flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th Commonwealth Youth Games with the honour of leading the 75 Team England athletes from seven different sports into the Thomas A Robinson Stadium in Nassau. Then on the first day of the athletics competition and being the first England athlete to compete she was crowned Commonwealth Youth Games Long Jump Champion.
Conditions were not ideal for the long jumpers with humidity at 80% and thunder rumbling around the stadium as the competition began. Holly said 'I was feeling good coming into the competition and felt that if I could execute everything I had done in training with my coach, James Coney, then there was a chance I could win a medal. I played it a little safe with my first jump to ensure I got a distance in so when I saw 6.19m come up that was a bonus and felt that I would jump further as the competition progressed.'
However just as Holly was preparing to jump in round two the athletes were told to leave the track due to numerous lightning strikes being reported close to the stadium. The athletes were kept off the track for over an hour whilst the storm passed. With little time to warm up again the competition recommenced and Holly produced a jump of 6.00m in round two. After completing three rounds the top eight athletes progressed to a further three jumps with Holly the only athlete to jump over 6m. Her England teammate Lucy Hadaway also made the cut lying in 4th place at the half way stage.
Holly said 'After the delays it was difficult to get back into any rhythm with my jumping and I had a feeling that it was going to be a case of who dealt with the conditions best would come out on top'. Jumping last Holly had been disappointed with her 3rd and 4th round jumps and was frustrated that her 5th round jump, which looked longer that her 1st round jump, was called a no jump due to a small mark in the no jump board. So going into the final round the placings remained unaltered until Lucy produced her best jump of 5.90m to move into 3rd place. With the Canadian athlete, Tatiana Aholou, unable to improve her best of 5.97m Holly had the luxury of knowing that she had won the competition before her final jump.
Holly said 'I could relax and enjoy my last jump knowing I had won the competition and as soon as I jumped all the emotion came out, I was laughing and crying and didn't know what to do! I was ecstatic. To have Lucy on the podium with me was great.' Lucy added 'It was really nice to stand next to Holly on the podium as we have been competing against each other since we were little and now to get to this stage together was a great moment to share.
Holly said 'I can't put the last few days into words, they have been amazing. First to carry the flag at the opening ceremony and now to win gold and be crowned Commonwealth Youth Games Long Jump Champion it's been unbelievable’.