UK School games


Emily Thompson & Seb Hartwell

UK School Games report by Richard Thompson....

Banbury Harrier Emily Thompson concluded her season in style last weekend as she won further national honours in the UK School Games, staged at Loughborough University.

She had been selected for the England Midlands athletics squad following her success at English School Championships in July, being picked to represent her region both in the 800m and as part of the Women's 4x300m relay team. After a dramatic day of athletics, Thompson emerged with a Silver medal in the 800m and a team Gold in the 4x300m relay.

The UK School Games bring together 1600 of the UK's best athletes to compete across a range of sports over four days of competition. The event has been the launch pad for many elite athletes including Dina Asher-Smith, Adam Peaty and Max Whitlock, who appeared at Thursday's opening ceremony.

The 800m event saw the best 2-lap runners from each of the English regions, as well as Scotland and Northern Ireland, competing for the UK Schools title. The line up included European Youth Silver Medallist Anna Burt from England South-West and Northern Ireland Champion Davicia Patterson, currently the fastest in the UK over 400m at Under 17 level. The race set off at a blistering pace, with the North West's Emma Alderson leading the way and going through the bell in just 60 seconds. Burt, Patterson and Thompson all followed and waited for their moment to move to the front on the second lap. Burt went first with 250m to go and then Patterson 150m from the line. Thompson still had a lot to do with 100m to go but, showing the finishing strength she has developed this season, eased past Alderson and Patterson as she approached the line. Burt took the Gold but Thompson's time of 2min 10secs was her second fastest of the season and enough to clinch a well deserved Silver medal.

Having won Gold with the England 4x300m relay team in July, Thompson now faced the prospect of running in a Midlands team against her England team mates who now lined up for the South East and South West regions. Scotland, who had pushed England all the way in July, had the same strong team and saw their opportunity to take Gold on this occasion. Scotland led almost from the start, whilst superb running from the Midlands team of Kiffin, Buchanan, Thompson and Adikpe kept them in contention for the Gold and left the South East and South West trailing. Scotland crossed the finish line a second ahead of the Midlands, but were then disqualified for breaching the rules on baton changeovers, leaving the delighted Midlands team to claim the title of UK champions. "We were all really happy with the way we ran and to get the Gold was an unexpected bonus", Thompson said afterwards. "It was a really competitive race. Everyone played their part for the team and I'm just delighted for all the girls".

Fellow Banbury Harrier Sebi Hartwell was also in Loughborough, competing for England Midlands over 400m. Facing a line-up of the country's best 400m runners, another excellent run and strong finish brought Hartwell home in a well-deserved 4th place in 51.22 seconds. Hartwell later had the honour of bringing the Midlands team home in their 4x400m relay to seal an excellent Bronze medal that capped a hugely successful season.

Photo: the winning England Midlands 4x300m relay team of (from left to right) Emily Thompson, Jazzmin Kiffin, Kaisha Buchanan and Esther Adikpe.

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