European silver one to savour for para-athlete Skinner in Berlin

Skinner will also compete in the 100m in Berlin. Pic: Ben Booth Photography

Five centimetres is a tiny difference in long jumping but Tonbridge’s Zak Skinner wasn’t ruing the fine margins after a valiant World Para Athletics European silver medal.

The 19-year-old was leading the men’s T13 long jump with two rounds to go but settled for second place in Berlin, his final effort of 6.72m proving just shy of Spain’s Ivan Jose Cano Blanco.

But with the Brit within three centimetres of his personal best, this was far from a result to be disappointed in.

Instead Skinner is using it as fuel for bigger and better things, with a World Championships in Dubai to come in 2019 prior to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“Five centimetres isn’t a lot, but you learn from it and, although I have got that little bit of disappointment that I didn’t win, I have taken a massive positive away from my first medal at my second Championships,” he said.

“I gave it my all, unfortunately, it wasn’t quite good enough but it is only going to make me a better athlete in the future.

“I’m really pleased with the performance, compared to last year where I only got one good jump in, this was really good and I gave it my all.

“It was only a couple of centimetres off my personal best so I’m happy, I’ve got a silver medal and I’ll really treasure that.”

An achievement like this was perhaps beyond Skinner a year ago, more in tune with the track as opposed to the sand with a plethora of running events.

Now he has just one – the T13 100m which follows later this week in Berlin – a switch of focus that is so far proving worthwhile as he strives to push his boundaries.

And with the performances of both he and the field improving with each meet, the teenager can’t wait to see what the next two years have in store.

“We had a massive adjustment this year, we’ve gone from focusing on the track to just having the long jump and the sprint so we’ve been able to change a lot – that’s been able to show in my progression,” added Skinner, who has ocular albinism which affects his vision.

“This was a really strong field and I wouldn’t have it any other way, I normally do best in those situations and I was pretty much improving with every jump out there. I had to work for it.

“The closer it gets in the long jump, the better all of us are going to do and that’s only a good thing.

“It was really nice to see my family, it makes a massive difference having them in the crowd there and supporting and I’m sure the stress lifted from my mum’s face when I got that first jump in.”

British Athletics works alongside UK Sport and the National Lottery to support the delivery of success at the world’s most significant sporting events, principally the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We do this via the funded initiative, the World Class Programme, one part of the British Athletics pathway.