AN OKEHAMPTON teenager?s preparations for his first season of under-17 competition was boosted when he gained gold at the recent South of England athletics championships. Alex Macgregor, 15, a student at Okehampton College, is a mutli-eventer, who excels in both track and field events. Alex triumphed at the recent indoor championship, beating a field of 20 older boys, and setting personal bests in all five disciplines. Alex has spent the winter training in preparation for stepping up to the octathlon, which comprises new events such as the 1500m, discuss and javelin alongside his more familiar pentathlon disciplines such as shot put, 100m hurdles, long jump and high jump. Alex said he had been delighted with his success on his first under-17 event, as he had gone to the event ?without any expectations? of how he might perform. Alex said he was looking forward to his first year at under-17 level competing against athletes who could be a year older. ?The first year of under-17s is a learning curve. It is a chance to see what your competition is and where you have got to improve for the next year,? said Alex. At under-15 level, competitors run a 800m race, whereas at the higher age bracket, the distance increases to 1500m. ?I?ve never run a 1500m competitively before,? said Alex. ?I didn?t like the 800m so I am not sure what to expect.? Alex is currently in the UK top ranking for four separate events. Alex said long jump was probably his favourite event, but at the moment he would like to continue multi-eventing rather than concentrating on one particular sport. Alex is a full member of Exeter Harriers Athletics Club, where he trains three nights a week. His winter training programme has focused on strength and stamina work, in preparation for the start of the outdoor season in April. He is coached in Exeter by Ruth Goodbeer and is also being mentored by Bruce Langdon who has worked with Olympic champions such as Daley Thompson and Sally Gunnell. Alex has been chosen to attend an Olympic training camp alongside other promising youngsters in the south of France this Easter where Bruce Langdon will be passing on tips to hopefuls. Alex wants to make it to the very top in athletics, but says although he would like to compete in the Olympics, the London Games of 2012 may come too soon. Alex will be 21 when the Games come to Britain, the ideal age for a sprinter or a single eventer, but competitors in the decathlon tend to be a bit older and bulkier to be able to handle the strain of the ten events. London 2012 therefore remains an outside chance, but if Alex continues making such fast progress one that should not be ruled out completely. Last September, Alex was awarded his international vest and represented England for the first time in the indoor pentathlon at Glasgow, as part of the gold-medal winning under-15 team of four. Alex said he normally kept calm before big races, but had been nervous before running for his country in a top class stadium at Glasgow. ?When I was there away from the track I didn?t think about athletics as much, but when I was on the bus going to the ground, my heart started to pump and when I was on the track I was really nervous, to be doing this for England for the first time, but once we started I was completely relaxed,? Alex said. Alex attended Northlew Primary School, but now goes to Okehampton College where he will be sitting his GCSE exams next year. Alex competes every two or three weeks during the outdoor season, but manages to balance his athletics with his schoolwork and seeing his friends. He said: ?It can be quite hard if all your mates are going out and you have got training to do. But I am focused on athletics because this is what I want to do.? Okehampton College acting principal Daryll Chapman said: ?We are very proud of Alex and his achievements. It is quite unusual to have a youngster who is talented in so many different athletic disciplines. ?Alex has devoted a huge amount of time, commitment and energy to achieve this success. He is a credit to Okehampton and we are pleased to see he has now achieved a national vest. ?We are very fortunate to have some incredibly talented youngsters in the college,? he added. Alex would like to thank the incredible local backing he has received. He has been supported by the Rotary Club to the tune of £200 and most recently, received a cheque for £500 from the Okehampton United Educational Foundation.