Club trio compete with country’s best
THREE members from Stratford upon Avon AC were selected to compete with more than 1,800 of England’s talented top young athletes from 50 counties over two days at the English Schools National Track and Field Athletics Championships, at Birmingham’s Alexander (Commonwealth) Stadium in what is the fourth biggest athletics competition in the world, reports Sam Swanepoel.
Qualifying for the championships is a tough enough ask but to step up to this national level is very hard, but once again Stratford athletes proved worthy and capable of competing against the very best athletes as they all set personal bests and had varying degrees of satisfaction with their performances. They also gained invaluable experience for the future.
First to compete for Warwickshire was Annie Silvers (Kings) in the junior (u15) girls 1500m. This was the first time Annie had competed at national level and in her heat, which was run at a very fast pace, Annie finished strongly in tenth in a new PB of 4:52.59.
Another debutant at national level was Poppy Fox-Rowe who competed in the senior girls (u20) 200m. Poppy’s heat was by far the fastest with four athletes qualifying for the final which was won by the heat winner. Poppy was fifth in her heat in a mew PB of 25.68s, meaning she was just 0.2 seconds away from qualifying for the final.
Poppy also ran the first leg of the second heat of the senior mixed 4 x 100m relay and Warwickshire stormed home only to find that the first heat contained three teams who ran marginally faster, pushing Warwickshire into fourth by just 0.4s and out of the medals.
Alex Adams (Stratford College) wore the Warwickshire vest for the first time having previously represented Gloucestershire and competed in the senior boys (u20) 1500m. Like Annie he stuck to his game plan, finishing eighth in his heat, set a new PB of 4:00.92, and was only just outside the sub-four minutes he was hoping for.
Joel Masters (Chipping Campden) competed for Gloucestershire in the inter boys (u17) 200m and he went into the championships as the sixth ranked English athlete in the UK but also the only year one athlete in the top 20 UK rankings and so a podium position was the hoped for outcome.
In his heat he blasted out of his blocks and stayed in control of the race through to the line and finished in 21.97s breaking 22s for the first time. The final was always going to be highly competitive, and from the start around the bend and into the straight Joel really pushed himself against the older athletes but retained his composure from gun to tape and ran another new PB of 21.87s and a superb place on the podium in the bronze medal position.
As well as having four athletes on the track, on the second day Carolyne Johnston organised 20 of the club’s young athletes to act as kit carriers and were superbly marshalled by coaches Nicola Ford, Rachel Stevens, Eleanor Nabney and Richard Harrison.