Athletics star achieves top GCSE results while coping with family trauma

A YOUNG athletics sensation whose father was diagnosed with cancer six weeks before he sat his GCSEs has achieved top results.

Isaac Henson was also recently named triple Yorkshire champ in shot put, discus and 100m hurdles and Northern regional champ in javelin.

The Ripon Grammar School student, whose father Ant was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April, is celebrating after being awarded five grade 9s, three 8s and three 7s.

Juggling a hectic sporting schedule with his studies, Isaac took it all in his stride: “There were lots of tears but we all pulled together. My dad being poorly really put things in perspective for me,” he says. “And spending many hours a week training for athletics has made me determined to do my best.

“But it’s been hard work and I could not have done this without the dedication of my teachers. They are passionate about their subjects, which really helps.”

His mother, Fiona, said: “We are over the moon with all his achievements and are so proud. We can’t thank the school enough for all their help and guidance.”

Just before sitting his exams, the 16-year-old multi-eventer competed in the Yorkshire track and field championships, where he also won silver in javelin and pole vaulting.

He went on to win his Northern regional title earlier this month, alongside silvers in pole vault and discus, having won the U17 Yorkshire discus champion title in the past for two years’ running.

Now taking A-levels in art, biology, chemistry and maths, Isaac hopes to win a sporting scholarship to study chemistry at university in the States.

Having qualified for four national championships this year, Isaac has also been selected for the prestigious School Games national finals at Loughborough University next week and national pole vault and octathlon championships this year.

The teenager represented Yorkshire at the national 2021 U17 octathlon championships in Bedfordshire and qualified for the U17 400m hurdle championships at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester last year.

A former North Yorkshire U15 indoor pentathlon champion – in long jump, high jump, hurdles, shot put and 800m sprint – he’s now working towards the decathlon, where he will compete in ten events.

Isaac trains with York City Athletics Club two to three times a week and attends specialist pole vaulting training in Leeds every Tuesday.

Although he only took up pole vaulting recently, he is currently placed sixth in the country in his age group.

The dedicated athlete also trains for two hours a day at home: “This can involve hanging upside down on rigs for prolonged periods so that I can hold my own body weight,” he explains.

His interest in athletics was first sparked aged 11, when he was selected to represent his school in cross country and went on to join the athletics club in York two years later.

Isaac, who received his results on his phone while working at a local cattery and kennels, added: “I can’t thank my English teacher Mrs Levahn enough for helping me get grade 7s as I struggle with it so much, she has been a fantastic teacher.

‘Chemistry is my favourite subject as my teacher Dr Grime has drummed into me that it’s the best subject in the world!”