English Schools Athletics Association – Track & Field Championships
Gateshead International Stadium – Friday 8th & Saturday 9th July 2016
The English Schools Championships have been held annually since their inception in 1925, the only exceptions being from 1940 to 1945, during the 2nd World War. They are the 4th largest athletics event in the world and they are the ultimate target for every young athlete in England.
All athletes aged between 12 years and 18 years are eligible to compete at the championships, providing they have attained the stringent entry standards which are set for each and every event. All the hopefuls then have to be selected to represent their County at the biggest competition of this and every year.
Sixteen Kingston athletes were selected for the County team and they boarded the bus at the Costello stadium, in the early afternoon of Thursday the 7th of July, to make the journey up to the International stadium at Gateshead, to try and achieve their dreams.
The team returned to Costello late on Saturday evening with six medals. Pride of place went to Shaun Kerry’s gold medal in the hammer, which he secured with the longest throw in Britain this year. There were silvers for Ben Copley in the discus and Olivia Stevenson in the hammer, bronze medals for Josh Tranmer in the discus, Hollie Smith in the high jump and Libby Wheeler in the triple jump.
Andrew Morgan-Harrison has made great strides this season. He started the year with gold and silver medals at the Northern indoor Championships, which in turn gained him selection for the Northern England team at the Welsh International meeting. Two gold’s at the County championships and two silvers at the Northern track & field championships were also added to his tally. He has taken 4 tenths of a second off his PB in 2016.
Eliot Gay was appearing at his first English Schools Championships meeting. He is very good sprinter and has taken 2 tenths of a second off his PB this season. He was the County champion in 2015 over 100 and 200 metres. This year he took the bronze at the County championships and silver at the County schools event, plus he was a finalist at the Northern indoor championships, over 60 metres and 200 metres.
Both athletes were in competition in the senior boys 100 metres sprint event at Gateshead and they were both drawn in the last of the five heats, to decide who would progress to the semi final. Andrew put together a strong run to win the heat and post a good time of 10.95s, to gain qualification for the semi final, to be held later in the day. Eliot could not find his best form and he finished in 6th place and ran a time of 11.58s, which was not enough to get him into the semi. Another impressive run of 10.86s by Andrew in the semi final, just 6 hundredths of a second outside his lifetime best, saw him take 2nd place and secure his place in the final. In Saturdays 100 metres final there had been a change in wind direction and the athletes were running into a strong head wind, which badly affected the times of everyone in the race. Andrew Morgan-Harrison finished in 7th place in the final and he recorded a time of 11.19s.
Emily Lyons was a 60 metres finalist at this year’s Northern indoor championships and she followed this up with appearances in both the 100 metres and 200 metres finals at the Northern track & field championships. In 2015 she won both 100 and 200 metres gold medals at all three of the local championship meetings the County Championships and the East Riding Schools and Humberside Schools championships. She was in competition at Gateshead in the senior girl’s 100 metres event. She was drawn in the first of the three heats where she finished in 5th place and her run of 12.78s was not sufficient to get her into the final.
This was 16 year old Amelia Benson’s second English schools championships event, having made her debut at Birmingham’s Alexander stadium in 2014. She is the reigning County and County schools champion over both 100 and 200 metres and was a 60 metre finalist at this year’s Northern indoor championships. Amelia was in action in the intermediate girl’s 100 metres event and she was drawn to run in the first of the 5 heats, where she took 5th place and ran a time of 12.78s. This year is 15 year old Hannah Kynman’s first year in the intermediate age category. She was the 2015 champion over 100 and 200 metres (as an under 15) at both the East Riding and Humberside schools events, as well as taking both the sprint titles at the County championships. Hannah was drawn in the 4th heat where her run of 12.59s saw her finish in 4th place in her race. The times for both girls were not enough to enable them to progress from the heats.
15 year old Libby Wheeler, a pupil at Cottingham High School, was competing in her 2nd English Schools Championships. In 2015 she finished 5th in the junior girls long jump and this season, after moving up to the intermediate age group, was faced with a choice between long and triple jumps, having attained entry standards in both. Opting for the latter she fully justified her choice by coming away with a completely unexpected bronze medal. Ranked 25th in the country before the championships the Northern indoor championship silver medallist started the competition by smashing her personal best by 26cm in the first round with a jump of 11.24m. Lying 3rd after 3 rounds Libby consolidated her position with a 4th round effort of 11.46m to finish 23cm ahead of the 4th placed athlete. Her winning performance is also a new club & Humberside county record, beating the old mark set by Rebecca Cope in 2010. A further reward is selection as reserve for the England team to compete against Scotland, Ireland & Wales in the forthcoming Home Countries international.
Fellow Cottingham High School pupil Venus Morgan also competed as an under 15 in the 2015 championships, and has also just moved into the intermediate age group. The outstanding heptathlete chose her favourite event, the 80m hurdles, despite also having a qualifying mark in the long jump. She too produced an outstanding personal best, reducing her existing 11.9 sec to 11.63 to finish 4th in her heat and progress to the final. Her time is a new club record – her second in 2 weeks, having previously set a new mark in the heptathlon. In typical Gateshead style the wind picked up and the finalists had a strong headwind to contend with, this having an adverse effect on times. Venus again ran well to take 7th place in 12.27 sec, a highly creditable performance at the lower end of the age group and well in excess of her expectations in the championship.
Year 9 Wolfreton School pupil Sam Croney was making his English School’s debut in the junior boys 80m hurdles. Having come to the fore when taking the bronze medal in the Northern Indoor Championships over 60m hurdles in February Sam has continued to make progress in the longer outdoor event having been unbeaten prior to the championships. Relishing in the stronger competition Sam was another to set a new personal best, clocking 11.87 sec in his heat, taking over half a second off his previous best despite poor weather conditions. Although this was not fast enough to take Sam into the final it was an important step in his hurdling career as he looks forward to Northern and England Championships next month.
On the Friday four further Kingston athletes were involved in field event finals.
Ben Copley is the reigning County discus champion and also holds the County schools titles in the discus, shot and javelin disciplines. He is currently ranked no.6 UK in the discus throw and during 2016 has improved his PB by 6 metres. Ben got Friday’s junior boys competition off to a magnificent start, throwing a lifetime best of 39.67m to take the silver medal. Still to come for Ben this season are the Northern Championships, followed by the Inter Counties Championships which will be held this year on home turf at Costello.
Next up in the discus circle in the intermediate boys final was Josh Tranmer, silver medallist at the 2015 Northern championships as well as the reigning County champion and County schools champion, who currently holds the no. 5 position on the UK ranking lists. During 2016 he has increased his PB by more than 4 metres. Josh’s best throw in the competition, one of 40.99m saw him take the bronze medal. Coming up in the next few weeks for Josh are the Northern championships and the England championships,
The senior girl’s discus final saw the County champion and County schools champion Sophie O’Hara in competition. Her best throw at Gateshead was one of 33.53m, which saw her finish in 7th position.
17 year old Hollie Smith collected her 5th medal of an outstanding 2016 campaign, in the senior girl’s high jump final. In January this year she won silver at the Northern indoor championships and 4 weeks later a bronze at the England indoor championships, at May’s County championships it was a gold medal. June brought another bronze at the Northern track & field championships. There were standout performances at the England track & field championships, where she took 6th place and at the British championships & Olympic trials where she was 8th. Another top notch performance at the English schools event where she cleared a height of 1.72m brought her another bronze medal.
The senior girl’s hammer throwers had to compete in two qualifying pools on the Friday morning, to try to book a place in Saturday afternoons final. Kingston’s Maggie Okul and Alice Barnsdale were among the combatants. Both girls booked their final places, with Maggie going through in 2nd place from Pool ‘A’ with a throw of 49.25m and Alice 3rd in Pool ‘B’ with her throw of 46.83m.
All the hammer finals took place on the Saturday with Kingston representation in three of them.
14 year old Shaun Kerry is becoming something of a phenomenon down at Costello. Not only is he the no.1 ranked hammer thrower in the UK, he is also ranked no. 12 in the shot and no. 20 in the javelin throw, plus he is a good sprinter as well. His list of achievements this year include Northern indoor shot champion, County shot, hammer and javelin champion and County schools hammer champion. At English Schools of course you can only do one event (except the relays) and Shaun’s main event is the hammer. At a league match at Darlington in June Shaun had put out the biggest throw in Britain this year, one of 58.51m and his rivals in the junior boy’s final at Gateshead were all very wary of him. He pulled out a massive new lifetime best throw of 60.85m, more than 7 metres ahead of his nearest challenger, to take the title of 2016 English schools champion.
The intermediate girl’s hammer final brought England international and British record holder Olivia Stevenson into the throwing area. Already this season she has won her 4th consecutive titles at both the County championships and the County schools championships. She won silver at the Northern under 20 championships, where she competed out of her age range. At the England championships she picked up another silver medal.
With due respect to all the other girls competing in the final, this was a contest between the two best hammer throwers in Great Britain, Olivia and her arch rival Katie Head of Newham and Essex Beagles. It was closely fought affair with Olivia pulling out a big throw of 62.55m, only for Katie to set a new British record of 65.06m to take the gold, with Olivia winning her third consecutive silver medal at these championships. Her next assignment will be down in Kent, where both Olivia and Katie have been selected to represent England at the Home Countries International meeting.
Two further members of the Hull Hammer Squad Maggie Okul and Alice Barnsdale competed in the senior girls final.
So far in 2016 Maggie has racked up her 4th consecutive County title as well as a 4th consecutive County schools title. In June at Sport City in Manchester she won her 6th consecutive Northern championships title. As always she gave everything she could here, but it wasn’t Maggie’s day this year and the 2015 silver medallist had to settle for 5th place with a throw of 51.54m.
She is now focussing on her next challenge which will take her to Cardiff, to represent Northern England at the Welsh International meeting.
Alice Barnsdale trains with the Hull Hammer Squad at Costello and competes for her home town club of Lincoln Wellington. She was a member of the Lincolnshire County team at this year’s English schools event. She has progressed well during 2016, she is looking stronger and is turning faster in the circle and has increased her PB by more than 9 metres this season. She has won the hammer title at the Lincolnshire County championships for the last 4 years including 2016. She was the bronze medallist at this June’s Northern championships, where the Hull squad took all three medals in the under 20 women’s event. At the England championship meeting she won the gold medal in the under 18’s 3kg hammer event.
Alice put in another good performance at Gateshead and she came so close to the bronze medal. she threw a new PB of 53.57m in the final which saw her finish in 4th place.
Two relay teams, the intermediate girls and the senior boys, made it through to the relay finals. With the senior boys team running a new County record of 44.07s in the semi final, whilst the intermediate girls qualified with a season’s best run of 48.81s.
In the final the boys team of Kingston’s Macalley Morgan and Eliot Gay, with Rounak Sen and Adam Harrison of Scunthorpe, finished in 6th place and they ran a time 44.13s.
The all Kingston intermediate girls team of Cosima Fawcett, Amelia Benson, Venus Morgan and Hannah Kynman were disqualified in the final for an infringement.