TEENAGE track sensation, Edward Dunford, is on track to repeat Daley Thompson's gold medal glory at the Olympic Games, writes Mervyn Collins.

It's been a truly remarkable story for the 17-year-old from Broom, whose talents for throwing, running and jumping were first spotted as a nine-year-old.

Dunford was crowned War-wickshire Schools champion while a pupil at Dunnington School, taking a trio of titles in the long jump, high jump and 100m.

As a 12-year-old, the youn-gster had risen to top spot in ten disciplines in the British rankings. It had never been done before at that level - the best was Katharine Merry who boasted eight first places.

Dunford has twice been crowned AAAs and English Schools champion at his strongest event, the 100m hurdles, while his exceptional all-round ability has seen him smash the British record in the octathlon and record a world-best points score at his age group.

The eldest of three sons, the Dunford family is a hotbed for athletes and that's not to leave out sister Jennifer who is ranked number three at under-13 shot and discus.

Brothers James (15) and William (14) have both shown their outstanding pedigree at the top junior level and it's all down to father Edward.

"I coach them all in between their education and social life." Dad said. "We have facilities at home for all the sports and we've never really used club facilities.

"Redditch Athletics Club didn't want Edward, so he went to Birchfield Harriers. However, he's hardly been there for the past 12 months, we do the training at home although it would be nice to have a local track."

Young Edward does represent Birchfield in league matches and he first made an impression in the Young Athletes League, "Basically, he won everything," said a proud dad.

A former pupil at Alcester High School, Edward is now taking four A levels at the Grammar School after gaining six As in his GCSEs.

"Daley Thompson is my inspiration," he admitted. "I've set my sights on winning gold at the Olympics but I might have to wait until 2008.

"There's a chance I could get into the England team for the Commonwealth Games next year and a possibility that I could go to Athens in 2004."

Father Edward added: "Daley went to the Olympics as an 18-year-old and it would be a lovely experience if Edward got the chance to go to Athens. "However, there's a qualifying mark nowadays so we will have to wait and see."

A second Olympic gold medallist, David Hemery, is a family friend. The son of the 1968 400m hurdles champion has been a rival of Dunford's during his teenage triumphs.

The Broom teenager's talents has been recognised by UK Athletics - he is one of two boys on a ten-strong list of "World Potential" athletes.

Next season, Dunford will move up to under-20 standard, where a collection of personal bests in competition would shatter Thompson's British record at that age group. And the Broom starlet has until 2003 to reach that milestone.

Dunford's next international outing takes him to the Kevin Hall in Glasgow for a Home International match, ahead of the main indoor season that gets under way in January.

"We get invites to UK Ath-letes meetings which act as get-togethers for budding stars," said father Edward who also revealed that sponsorship opportunities had been limited.

"We had the offer of help from a London-based company called Souper Soups, who were promoting healthy eating but I felt they wanted to take too much control," he recalled.

"I've not really pushed for financial support but it would be a help if we could strike a deal that suits all parties."

A series of Open meetings in the new year will determine whether the local youngster can continue his record breaking progress in a multitude of events - with a place at the World Junior Championships n Jamaica his immediate goal.

A Commonwealth Games call could elevate Dunford into the public eye and he is certainly on the right track to emulate hero Thompson and become one of the long awaited bright new stars of British athletics.