GIFTED young Barnt Green athlete Becky Straw confirmed her place as one of the country’s stars of the future when she grabbed gold at the National Schools Championships in Gateshead.

The 17-year-old powered to victory in the 1,500 metres at the International Stadium, in a time of four minutes 27.18 seconds, seeing off second-placed Olivia Saddler and Katherine Turner.

In a tight tactical race, Straw produced a perfect performance. She bided her time in the lead pack for two laps, before moving to the front and then started to increase the pace.

Straw, pictured left, kicked on with 550m to go and a further injection of speed at the bell ensured she won by a clear 10m.

“I am really pleased with the gold,” said Straw.

“I wanted to get a medal but nobody was going to hand it to me on a plate and I knew I had work hard.

“My coach told me to kick on with 240m left but I kind of started my wind-up at 400m and managed to hold on.”

Her national success comes on the back of a fine month. She ran a personal best time of 4.22.00 in London on June 9, which places her fifth in the UK under-20s rankings and 15th in the European standings.

Following that run she was also invited to run at the UK Olympic Trials in Birmingham at the end of June, where she held her own amongst the senior athletes, and finished a creditable sixth in her heat.

So far this year, Straw has won her age group at the English Cross Country Association’s Championships in April and helped England win team gold at the World School Cross Country Championships in Malta.

She had produced a gutsy individual display coming sixth, while the team topped the leader board.

The teenage rising star will be in action this weekend at the British Milers Grand Prix.