WITHAM multi-event athlete Jessica Hopkins said it had been an important learning curve for her as she claimed a hat-trick of bronze medals in three different disciplines at the South of England Under-17 Indoor Championships at Lee Valley.

The Maltings Academy pupil, who celebrated her 16th birthday on the first of the two-day event and is in her first year in the under-17 ranks against older athletes, was participating at Lee Valley in separate events as part of preparations for heptathlon competitions this year.

She was ranked fourth in the UK in the under-17 age group last year and showed she would be a force again this year with some impressive early season performances.

Hopkins' first event of the weekend was the 60 metre hurdles where she had to qualify through heats and semi-finals to eventually make it to the final and her quickest time was 9.06 seconds on her way to an eventual seventh place overall.

The second of the two days then started with the long jump where Hopkins leaped 5.34m to gain qualification for the final round where she later improved to 5.47m to gain her first bronze medal of the event.

Straight after the finals of the long jump she then had to go over to high jump to prepare and warm-up, but still managed to clear a height of 1.65m, which was enough to put her in third position again, just behind her two training partners.

Finally, the Witham athlete competed in the shot putt and she ensured a successful finish to the weekend with another bronze medal as she threw a distance of 13.67m.

Hopkins said: "This weekend was a great learning curve as I got to experience having to quickly prepare for each event and deal with the fatigue from the previous events, something that is very important for multi-events.

"I am a very lucky athlete to be a part of Chelmsford Athletics Club where I have the luxury of both indoor and outdoor facilities as well as great coaches that unlock potential talent in all athletes."