Report on English schools


National champs at Gateshead

Abbey Anson, Michael Dawes, Seb Hartwell, Zoe Pollock and Emily Thompson all excelled with their performances in the 86th English Schools National Championships at Gateshead last weekend. The five Banbury Harriers had been honoured to be selected to represent their county schools teams in the most prestigious fixture in the athletics calendar for school age athletes and a competition in which Olympic gold medallists Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford have all participated in.

Emily Thompson cruised home to win her U17 800m heat in a very controlled manner on the Friday. Saturday’s final was a different matter where she was up against Katy-Ann McDonald and Khahisa Mhlanga who are both ranked in the top 10 U17W in Europe. Thompson took the lead with 300m to go but Mhlanga then overtook her on the final bend and continued to go away from the field, leaving Thompson in 2nd. McDonald then put in a burst of speed towards the line but Thompson full of grit and determination dug in hard and the two made an extraordinary last burst and dip for the line. Neither knew who had got the silver until it was announced that Thompson had grasped it by 6 hundredths of a second in a seasons best of 2m09.40s. Through winning the silver medal The Warriner School pupil was selected to represent England in the home international against Ireland, Scotland and Wales next weekend.

Fellow Warriner School pupil Seb Hartwell ran a very tactical race to win his U17 400m heat and progress to the final. Drawn in lane 6 he again executed a perfect race plan where he patiently sat back and tracked his opposition for the first 300m and then produced a tremendous last 100m sprint to the finish. Which saw him surge forward to the line as his competitors were fading to take the bronze medal in a new PB of 49.85s. Over half a second improvement on his previous best and a new UK ranking of number 8.

First year U19, Hartpury College Student and a former pupil of The Warriner School Michael Dawes competed in the much anticipated senior Hammer competition where he faced the strongest field in the event for many years. Rising to the occasion he threw 53.23m, this was both a 2 metre PB and a new club record for 10th place in the final.     

Stowe School pupil Zoe Pollock represented Bucks in the U17 200m where she produced a stunning personal best and new club record of 25.11s in the heats and then despite drawing lane 8 in the semi-final she ran 25.67s for 3rd place and qualification for the final. Where she was again drawn in the difficult outside lane but she still produced another excellent run marginally outside her PB for 8th place.

Abbey Anson equalled her PB of 12.38s with an excellent run for 3rd in the heats to qualify for the semi-finals the next day. Where she again ran a very strong race but unfortunately was not able to make the final. She finished the weekend by running a great last leg, passing two athletes, in the 4 x 100m to bring the Oxfordshire team home for a 5th place in the relay final.

The report and photos of Emily Thompson are Courtesy of RWT photography. The other photos are by Shannon Dawes. 

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