A TEENAGE athlete who had to learn to walk again after operations on her legs as a child has broken the 28-year record of a Commonwealth medallist who jokingly told her dad “she’ll never be as good as you”.

Tia Anderson took the jest seriously and used it to spur her on to break Allison Curbishley’s North-East Under-17 300m record of 40.15 seconds at the North-East Championships in Middlesbrough, completing it in 40.1 secs.

The 16-year-old of Wheatley Hill, who runs for the Durham City Harriers, said: “I am absolutely delighted. When I found out I cried tears of joy. It was amazing

“I never used to run as a child, because I couldn’t. I had bad legs. I operations on them when I was eight and had casts and calipers – I went through the works.

“When I was ten my mum and dad decided to take me to the running club and I ran my first competitive race at Middlesbrough for the Sedgefield Harriers when I was 11 .

“Allison and her partner Steve Cram came along to see my mum and dad and she made a funny throwaway comment to my dad Jeff, saying “she’ll ever be as good as you”.

“From then the comment has stuck and has been a challenge. I found out Allison had the Under-17 record and thought ‘Lets just get that one’.

“When she was my age Allison she was really fast. So when I was running she was there with me.

“I really want to achieve what she did, because she’s got medals and the GB vest. I hope to take it even further.”

She added: “I would like to shake her hand, because she is the one that made me want to run that fast. If it wasn’t for her, in general, because she was a really good athlete, with her being in the record books and she was recognised. I think me breaking her record has put me up there as well. Hopefully I’ll be GB best like she was in a few years.”

Curbishley, 42, said: “It’s brilliant. I absolutely applaud Tia. It is fantastic. More importantly the record is staying in Teesside as well. I would be encouraging her to stick at it and get as much from athletics as possible.”

She added: “Every athlete needs inspiration. When you break a record you want it to last as long as possible.

“But at the end of the day my whole career was spent chasing the people like Linsey MacDonald’s Scottish record and when I started at in club Middlesbrough, various key athletes, such as Louise Stuart and Denise Knox, girls that were a lot older than me. You recognise their achievements and you aspire to as good, if not better than them.

Mum Clare said: “We are all so proud of Tia. All she wanted to do was run. But she couldn’t because she had Achilles tendonitis. So they operated on her when she was eight.

“Seeing her on her little zimmer frame wanting to join other children broke my heart. She is just a toughie. She thrives on everything she does.

“When Tia heard that remark she vowed that she would break Allison’s record. It spurred her on. She has trained and worked so hard, giving up her spare time. Her schoolwork comes first to her, as well.”