BASINGSTOKE sprinter Owen Richardson brought a frustrating season to an excellent end by winning his first national title.

The Basingstoke and Mid Hants runner claimed the 400-metres crown at the English Athletics under-15 and under-17 championships at Bedford on Sunday.

After cruising through the under-17 heats, Richardson laid down a marker by winning his semi-final in a season’s-best time of 48.84sec.

He then romped to victory in the final, clocking 48.13sec, a new personal best, finishing more than half a second clear of the second-placed runner.

This season has been a tough one for Richardson, who turns 17 on Saturday.

He missed the early part of the year with a stress fracture of the tibia and was unable to defend his English Schools title earlier in the season, finishing third.

Both of the runners who beat him that day also competed in Bedford, but they were left racing for silver and bronze medals as Richardson completed his return to top form, moving to the summit of the British rankings in the process.

Richardson said: “It’s great to end the season on a high and win a really big race.

"I am relieved because I have never won this title before and it is the competition that means the most to me.

“The final felt a bit different to how I have felt in races before.

"I like to go out hard but at 200-metres I felt more tired than I ever have before. I kept my form well though and brought it home.”

Richardson was not the only north Hampshire athlete to taste success at Bedford, with The Clere School pupil Holly Mills picking up two gold medals at national level.

The multi-talented Andover AC athlete won the under-17 80-metres hurdles in 11.32sec and also took gold in the long jump, her best event, leaping 6.14m.

Three other Basingstoke and Mid Hants athletes also travelled to Bedford for the championships.

Amelia Cook finished fifth in the under-17 shot thanks to a throw of 12.70m, an agonising 5cm short of the medals.

Rebecca Bullock and James Beeks failed to make it beyond the heats of the under-15 800m and under-17 1,500m steeplechase.