So, another weekend, another trip to sunny London. This time Cat and Becs accompanied two talented youngsters, Jamie Oldham and Daniel Ross, to Bedford for the England Athletics U15/U17 National Championships.
This is where all the top age-group athletes compete to finish off their year, and with tough qualifying standards to enter, the level of competition is extremely high.
Dan was competing in the U17M Hammer on the Sunday, and Jamie in the U17M 100m on Saturday and his preferred 200m on the Sunday. And what an exciting weekend it was – not necessarily for all the right reasons!
Saturday began with a small panic when there was a realisation that our planned departure time didn’t quite work with the check in time of 90 minutes before your event. Luckily we were helped out by Marcia & Ryan from Bristol who very kindly gave us a lift to the track so we would arrive in time. As soon as we arrived at the stadium, we could see this was a much higher level of competition – really well organised, lots of advertising, call room and designated warm-up areas, boxes for track athletes put their gear in for collection at the finish line – and all the entrants on Roster with their PBs, many of them walking around in National, County and Schools kit. The boys were nervous!
Jamie was up first in the 100m, he was in heat 4, lane 4 and was using blocks in competition for the very first time. That bold decision paid off as Jamie got an excellent start. He ran a great race and was taken over just in the last 30m to come 5th. The wind had picked up to -2.5m/s and he finished in 11.60.
With the obligatory hoodies purchased, we had a relaxing walk home and a chat to the swans on the way.
On Sunday, following another lift from the lovely Marcia and Ryan, the boys were competing at about the same time, which gave them a chance to do some of their warm-up together. The innocent question from Jamie of ‘Could you check what heat and lane I’m in Becs?’ caused heart stopping dread when Jamies’s name was not on the start list in Roster. A quick liaison with the a track official, who then liaised with the Track Referee and all was sorted, Jamie was back in the race and completely oblivious to the drama. Jamie got another really good start in the 200m and ran his usual excellent bend to put him in 4th, before he was overtaken in the home straight to again come 5th in 23.24.
Dan had left for an earlier call room to go onto the field for his hammer competition. There was a really large field of 15 athletes, in comparison to the 5 or 6 that have comprised the same competitions at Hampshire and South of England champs. Dan had a no throw in the first round. His got a legal mark of 39.76m in the second round and really went for it in round 3 with a great effort, but held on a bit too long and got another no throw. His second round throw wasn’t enough to make the cut and he was 12th overall.
Two very happy coaches left with two athletes who acquitted themselves really well at this high level of competition, and who will have gained really valuable experience and hopefully a thirst to come back to Nationals again.