HARRIET Hillman’s emergence as one of Wiltshire’s brightest young athletes was again confirmed with an excellent performance in the South West regional finals of the English Schools’ Cross Country Cup.

Travelling to Leweston School, Sherborne, with her St Mary’s Calne junior girls’ team-mates, 11-year-old Hillman exceeded expectations in her first attempt at the event to finish third even though she was racing against girls a year older than her.

“It was a really good event and I was really pleased to come third especially as I was at the bottom of the age group this year,” said Hillman, who lives at Braydon and is a member of Swindon Harriers.

“The course was quite tough and very muddy - but that made it good fun too."

It was the end to a good week for Hillman as the previous week she had also won the North Wiltshire Schools’ title at Grittleton House and will certainly be a medal contender for the county championships in the new year.

As for the cup event, progress to the English Championships is based on team performance and not individual and on Saturday St Mary’s Calne had to settle for seventh pace out of 12 so miss out on the automatic qualification for the top three schools.

“The girls ran in wet and very muddy conditions, pushing themselves hard against the best runners in the South West – with girls from schools in Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset and Berkshire,” said St Mary’s spokeswoman Stephanie Bryan.

St Mary’s inter girls’ team came even closer to qualifying just missing out by an agonising two points behind hosts Leweston School as they finished fourth of 12 teams.

Susannah Hirst led the way in ninth with Fenella Challinor also making the top 20 in 18th.