THE 88th English Schools’ Track & Field Championships at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham will mark the end of an era for the Howorth brothers, writes KEVIN FAHEY.

The two-day spectacular gathering of the best young athletes in the country will be the final time that twins John and Robert and younger brother Rory will appear in the same Wiltshire team at this event.

Remarkably for the Hilperton boys, who are all students at St Augustine’s Catholic College, it will be the third time that they have represented Wiltshire at the event.

“It is the last time the three of us will be in the same Wiltshire schools’ team so we’ll be looking to make the family proud,” said 18-year-old Robert, who goes in the senior boys’ 800m.

“It has been an absolute privilege to represent Wiltshire at these championships and the years have flown by.

“Both John and I will be looking to bow out in style and give it our best shot.”

It was in 2016 when the brothers were all first selected for the event with Robert finishing sixth in the inter boys’ 1500m steeplechase with John just ahead in fourth. Rory, who recently celebrated his 16th birthday, finished fourth in the junior boys’ 1500.

Last year both Robert and John bowed out in the heats of the senior boys’ 800m so will be determined to try and make the finals this time, although John has now stepped up to the 1500m, having won the South West Schools’ title last month.

“I have improved my personal best by seven seconds already this year and I know I can go quicker if I need to,” said John.

“But at the English Schools’ it is first about getting into the final and then putting yourself into the right place at the right time in the final. They are normally slow run races so with my speed I know that would give me a chance.

“Anything could happen in the final but first the priority is to get out of the heats.”

Rory’s selection for his fourth championships was a close-run thing as he injured a hamstring at the regional championships and has been receiving intensive treatment to get fit.

That has allowed him to make the start line, not in his first choice event of the long jump but in the shot, which is sure to cause a stir among his rivals who will likely tower over Rory if not in height but sheer seize.

“I will be as tall as many of them but won’t necessarily have the same bulk and I will probably be the slimmest thrower there,” said Rory.

“But it will be good for me and my multi events and I can go there nice and relaxed as there will be no expectations on me. It will certainly be different!”

It will be Rory’s third different event at the championships having done the 1500m twice as a junior boy since his debut in 2015 before switching to the 400m hurdles last year.

With two further years as a senior ahead of him there is every chance Rory will go on to complete a full set of six appearances so his parents Caroline and Frazer won’t be cutting all ties with their annual trip just yet.

“This one will be a special one for us although it will feel a little strange,” said mum Caroline.

Wiltshire squad – Junior boys: Harry Ricketts (hammer); Owen Merrett (hammer); James Viner (hammer); Theo Cochrane (high jump); Omario Henery (100m); Mikael Evloer (shot); Larne Alki (200m); Joe Carter (200m); Rob Jones (800m); Harry Cunningham (800m).

Inter boys: Femi Akinbobla (200m); Thomas Homes (javelin); Rory Howorth (shot).

Senior boys: Robert Howorth and Hayden Bailey (800m); John Howorth (1500m); Sam Roberts (110mH); Jake Bukey (long jump); Charlie Curry (100m); Josh Ricketts (hammer).

Junior girls: Beatrice Wood (1500m); Willa Gibb (75mH); Megan Galpin (javelin); Georgia Clark (shot); Olivia Rodrick (1500m); Ophelia Pye (300m).

Inter girls: Molly Hole (high jump); Anna Merritt (hammer); Gabrielle Kirkman (long jump).

Senior girls: Teresa Iannetelli (200m); Jade Littlechild (1500m); Ottilie Knight (javelin).