Alexander Stadium witnessed some hot competition over two days as the temperature steadily increased to a level which presented some challenges for the longer events. An overwhelming takeaway from these Championships was the magnificent sportsmanship demonstrated by the young athletes. As some tumbled over hurdles and through fatigue, others consoled their fellow competitors, demonstrating instinct and emotional maturity beyond their years. The Olympic values, Friendship, Respect and Excellence were all present in abundance, sufficient to move even the coolest of observers.
To get selected for the English Schools is in itself testament to the quality of performance of those who compete. Eighteen HHH athletes swapped their red and black hoops for the jet black of London, by far the coolest kit on show (in a fashion rather than literal sense). Two HHH athletes competed for Surrey and Sussex.
The Club’s standout performer was Alex Brown, who qualified comfortably in the SG 1500m heats, and then led the final from gun to tape. Both were cagey/tactical races, as were most of the middle distance events. These Championships are about executing a race plan which is responsive to the prevailing forces rather than chasing a hare to times, and Alex is a tactical master. Two silvers and now two golds in consecutive English Schools are ample evidence of this mastery and, after slowish opening laps in the final, Alex picked things up from 600m out and really blasted at 300m to go, bursting the field asunder. It was great to also see Saskia Millard racing again at the top table, comfortably qualifying and finishing an excellent 6th in the final.
Also representing London Schools in the SG category were Zoe Tompkins and Ella Newton. For the first time Zoe contested the 1500m s/c and she acquitted herself admirably. Going into the race with a PB of 5min10, Zoe committed from the outset running with girls with quicker PBs. She finished 6th clocking a big PB, 5.07.07 a national standard time and a club and Surrey county under 20 women’s record. To demonstrate her range, Zoe also ran an excellent top bend in the 4 x 100m team that finished 7th in the final. Ella also produced an excellent performance in the large field of 17 athletes. In what was one of the strongest in depth events of the championship, Ella finished 9th with a PB of 9.56.76 and well inside the national standard, one of ten SG under 10 minutes. Great to have 4 HHH middle distance athletes in a strong London contingent.
Another successful middle distance category was the JG, with three of our athletes contesting the 1500m and one the 800m. Maisie Collis, competing in the old gold of Surrey, was the star of the show running a brilliantly executed race, amidst mayhem around her. Two front runners ran the first 200m as though it was a 400m race, whilst Maisie coolly held off the pace but kept in contention. In the end, one athlete succumbed but not the other, with Maisie’s final lap burst securing her an excellent silver, with a big PB of 4.32.76, a national standard and second ranked in the UK. Also having a superb run was Eva Holland, who paced her race perfectly to finish 4th with a PB of 4.39.12 and national standard performance. Phoebe Bowen gained valuable experience at her first English Schools T and F, finishing 16th in her 1500m heat. Layla Wilkinson, Sussex, contested the 800m and ran a brave race to finish 3rd in her heat, 2.19.00.
Also in the JG age group were Niyah Costley who produced a PB long jump of 5.29m, again achieving a national standard, followed by a best in the final of 5.01m for 12th place. Je’nae James had an outstanding English Schools. She produced a national standard 11.98m in the shot put final to secure a brilliant silver medal and then ran in the 4 x 100m heats, helping London qualify. Niyah was also a member of the relay squad, and was part of the final team where London finished 4th, national standard.
We had four IG athletes. Cara Russell produced great consistency to clock 25.87 and then 25.77 in her semi where she finished 5th. Cara was also a member of the successful 4 x 100m relay squad, contributing to the heat time and qualification of 46.96, national standard. The team went on to secure silver medals. Ore Adamson, another major success story on the big occasions, jumped 5.80m in a highly competitive long jump final to finish 4th, again a national standard. Mallory Cluley had an excellent championship, contesting the 80m H. Coming in with a PB of 11.83, Mallory produced PBs in the heats and semi finals where she finished 5th, 11.62.
The five strong JB athletes produced some excellent performances. Noah Ojumu went all the way to the final in the 200m where he finished 6th, with a PB clocking en route of 23.19 and national standard (which at the time of writing we believe may be a club record). Kai Broadbent went one better to finish 5th in his shot putt final with a putt of 12.80m. He then joined Noah in the 4 x 100m relay squad that finished an excellent 4th in the final (which Noah contested), national standard time. Ignatius Abebrese leapt to 5.52m in the long jump, finishing 16th, whilst sadly Malachi Butt could not take part in the same event due to injury.
In the IB category, Tiarnan Matthews produced an excellent 13.95m in the shot putt to finish in 8th in the final.
For some the English Schools will act as a platform to even greater things. We remember Kristal Awuah at last year’s Championship, emphatically winning the SG 100m race. This year Kristal has secured a bronze individual and bronze relay medal on the world stage, at the World Juniors. Live, train, dream and be inspired, many Olympians have grown from the English Schools, it is a platform for the future. Well done to all the coaches, parents, carers and others who make it all possible, and to the team managers and officials for their massive contribution.
Keith Newton, 17/7/18.