|The England Athletics under 15 and 17 Championships.
Report – Paul Bearman.
Held at the Bedford International Stadium, these are effectively the UK championships with the best young athletes from right across the while of the UK competing.
7 Stratford athletes met the qualifying standards required to be able to compete at this level, which is a test in itself.
On day one and in his first season of Triple Jumping, U17 Nick Butler lined up for his first taste of competition at this level. His opening jump of 12.74m was his 2nd best ever and despite 2 more jumps spot on the board, he couldn’t improve and finished 13th but was only one of his shoe lengths from getting through to the final.
Georgie Campbell has had a superb but very long and tiring season and she lined up in the U17 1500m in blustery conditions that buffeted the athletes in the back straight. Georgie stayed in the leading pack up to the final lap but when some athletes started to stretch away her “legs went to jelly” as she typically pushed herself towards the line and finished 12th in 4:48.05
Joshua Roberts was making his debut in the national championships in the U15 javelin and was in brilliant form. Roberts qualified for the final after peppering the late 40m mark in his earlier throws, taking him into the bronze medal position. Despite throwing over 50m for the first time with a lifetime best of 50.10 he was nudged into 4th place but it was a great performance, especially as he is a first year in his age group and was up against older athletes.
On day two Ollie Wear lined up in the U17 Javelin. Ollie, like Roberts had had a disappointing English Schools championships but they put that behind them and both proved to themselves that they are top throwers.
Inspired by Roberts’ performance the previous day, Wear had a marginal no throw in the first round but on his 3rd throw he launched the javelin out to 52.40m, just below his PB. Such is the competition at this level with the top 3 throwing over 60m Wear’s best throw still wasn’t good enough to make the top 8 final and he finished in 12th place
Over the years hurdling has become SUAAC’s most successful event in championships and 2019 has again given the club more success with Freddie Clemons winning the U15 title and Cole Williams winning bronze in the U17s.
Undoubtedly the SUAAC performance of the day was by Clemons who had a comfortable win in his heat (11.17s) and in the final he again showed his strength and class, particularly in the middle and final part of the race, by again powering through the field to win in 10.93s just outside his PB.
In his debut season as a hurdler Harry Sugden finished 6th in his heat in 14.77s and Williams, who has had disappointments in the indoor and ESAA championships this year lined up with a steely focus to put those disappointments behind him and he won his heat in 13.30s.
Joe Harding from Basildon was the clear favourite for the final and although they had a plus 3.1 tail wind Harding’s incredible winning time of 12.48s was a UK and Championship best performance. This meant the other athletes were running for the silver and bronze medals.
Williams lined up in a final full of the top UK U17 hurdlers and with the determination to make sure he was in the mix at the finish, he blasted out of the blocks and his smooth, sharp hurdling throughout the race saw him dip over the line to take the bronze medal in 12.98s and new PB.
We’ve been coming to these championships for many years but it’s been great to see our new generation of athletes mixing and competing so well against the best in the country and doing their club and coaches proud.