30 August 2008
Hosts Bath brought a carnival atmosphere to the UK School Games today, where athletics kick off its two day competition. The wait finally over for some of the most talented young athletes in the country, the University of Bath’s athletics track was open for business, and day one was packed full of action.
The first final of the day was the men’s hammer, which was won in emphatic style by Andrew Jordon (South East) 65.93m, with a winning throw that was almost 7m clear of his nearest rival Rhys Hodnett (Wales) who threw a PB of 59.51m for second place, with Andrew Elkins (South West) third with a best throw of 59.10m.
The women’s pole vault Christina Hughes of Wales soared above the bar at a height of 3.50m to claim the title, with Ellie Besford (East) second, clearing 3.40m and London’s Rosa Williams third, clearing 3.30m.
The next final up was the women’s shot put, won by East Midlands Yasmin Spencer 12.19m, 6cm clear of Yorkshire and Humberside’s Amber Merrills, who recorded a best throw of 12.13. Kirsty Yates of Scotland was third with a best throw of 11.72.
The talented Dwyte Smith (South East) completed the double of England Athletics Under 17 Championships and UK School Games long jump champion, with distance of 6.99m (+1.4), with Wales’ David Guest second, 6.83m and James Lelliot (South West) third with a jump of 6.60m.
Zane Duquemin (South East) was winner of the men’s discus event, 50.33m, followed by Liam Biddlecombe (South West) 49.22m, with Robbie Pickering of Yorkshire and Humberside in third place with a throw of 44.75m.
Duquemin said on his performance; "It’s my first time here and I’m happy with the win, the distance was bad but others got PBs. It’s been a really good season and I’ve topped the ranks. I won English Schools and am aiming for Youth Commonwealths in India for Jersey, I really want a medal there."
"Seeing GB was inspiring but there were no great GB throwers, it’s time for a change but I’m aiming for 2016 or 2020."
There was more glory for the South East in the men’s high jump which was claimed by Joe Kent, clearing 2.02m put taking the top spot on count back from second place Jamie Johnson of Yorkshire and Humberside, who cleared a new PB. Third place went to East region’s representative Michael Grabarz, 1.90m
The first track final of the day was the men’s 3,000m, a merciful cool breeze hang in the air for runners for this lunch time event, which was won by Jonny Hay (South East) with a massive PB of 8.33.30. Second place was claimed by Alex Cornwell (East) with another PB of 8:36:46, with third place being taken by Paul Thompson of the West Midlands, crossing the line at 8:39:32, which is also a PB, conditions today certainly suiting the distance runners.
Hay said on his victory: "I beat my PB by 5 or 6 seconds which is really good, I’m delighted. I’m 16 and it’s my first time at the games but I won England Schools this year. Next year in Feb March time I will be trying out for the GBR junior team."
The women’s ambulant discus saw Vicky Silk (South East) rise to the challenge set by her competitors, with a best throw of 16.65m. Sophie Renwick (North West) was second with a throw of 11.21m, Amy Wareing (East) third with 14.31. The award presented to the top 3 by Chair of the British Paralympic Association Mike Brace.
Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, just back from Beijing after greeting the victorious Team GB earlier in the week presented some awards. Jowell expressed her gratitude to the young ambassadors in sport that were working at the UK School Games this weekend, saying that they were “integral to the development of sport in the UK.”
“Over 1,500 young individuals are competing in an ever increasing range of events, which mirror that of a Commonwealth and Olympic Games environment. There has never been a better time for a young person to aspire to excellence in sport.”
Jowell was also keen for other sports to get on board the UK School Games, in making this the pinnacle of sporting achievement for young people in the UK.
In a close contest, the women’s triple jump competition crown was claimed by Jade Attoh (London) with her best hop, skip and jump recorded at 11.87m (+1.1). West Midlands Gemma Smith was second with a distance of 11.82m (+1.6); third place went to Ahtollah Rose of the North West, 1cm behind Smith.
1984 Olympics gold medal winner Tessa Sanderson aptly presented the award to the women’s javelin winner, Izzy Jeffs (South West), her winning throw measured at a PB of 47.72m. Second was Tesni Ward (East Midlands), 41.58m, with Danielle Anderson (South East) third, 41.51m.
Track activity on day one of the athletics competition was dominated by heats in various events.
Earlier in the day Christine McMahon (Northern Ireland) 44.04 and Jenny White (West Midlands), 43.97 secured qualification in the women’s 300m hurdles heats, advancing through to tomorrow’s final as respective heat winners. Sid Srinivas (North West) time of 56.58 saw him safely through the men’s 400m hurdles heats; he will be joined by Olu Oyewobi (London) 54.75, winner of heat two.
In the men’s 100m heats produced some notable performances in the face of a swirling wind, including William Ifa (London) 11.15, and fastest of the qualifying round Deji Tobias (East) 11.02 comfortably through into tomorrow’s final, which already looks set to be a highly competitive affair. This was shortly followed by the women’s 100m heats, who also had to contend with some windy conditions in this open stadium, but Lauretta Curtis (East Midlands) 12.62 and Shauna Lawton (West Midlands) 12.81 ensured it was a midlands 1-2 in the first heat, with Hannah Thomas (Wales) 12.29 and Megan Hoult (Yorkshire and Humberside) 12.72 automatically qualified from heat two.
Ben Sturgess (East Midlands) looked in impressive form as he safely qualified for the men’s 400m final tomorrow with a time of 47.99; he will be joined by Greg Louden (Scotland), who was winner of heat two with a time of 48.91, closely followed by Dan Putnam (London). South East’s Kirsty Warland, 11.43, won heat 1 of the 80m hurdles to advance to tomorrow’s final, with Harriet Thompson of the West Midlands top of the class in heat two, 11.80.
The pick of the qualifiers from the men’s 100m hurdles was East Midlands’ Themba Luhana, winning heat one with a time of 13.22, with West Midlands Alex Nweunwu qualifying fastest out of his heat with a time of 13.30.
The women’s 300m heats provided few surprises, with Amy Allcott (South East), 38.91 qualifying fastest in her heat, and Laura Mason (East Midlands), 40.40 winning her heat to advance to the final.
Rikkie Letch (South East) and Adam Cotton (West Midlands) qualified fastest from the men’s 800m by winning their heats with times of 1:57:36 and 1:57.09 respectively. Oriel Hardman (North West) 2:13.98 and Benytta Doman (Wales) 2:12.59 qualifying fastest out of the women’s heats.
200m heats produced some inspiring performances with Shaunna Thomas (North West) living up to the recognition of her talents, she won her heat with a time of 23.82. Twinelle Hopeson (South East) was fastest in her heat, 24.78. The men’s heats saw Rhion Samuel (London) and Kieran Showler – Davis (South East) the fastest across both heats with times of 22.26 and 22.39 respectively.
A day of qualification on the track ended with relay heats, out of the women’s 4 x 100m the West Midlands and South West were the heats winners, with times of 47.92 and 47.45 respectively, in the men’s qualifiers, the East region and London were heats winners with times of 43.15 and 42.23.
In the women’s 4 x 300m, North West and South East topped their heats with times of 2:46.88 and 2:42.67. The men’s 4 x 400m heats saw the South West win heat one, 3:25.77, and Scotland qualify from fastest from heat 2, 3:22.39
Former international 400m runner, now coach Jared Deacon said “it’s been an enjoyable day, with a really good set up and some of the performances have been a real highlight of the day.”
The University of Bath will open its doors once more tomorrow, with action on the track is sure to intensify now qualification has been secured in many of events, and the finals up the ante with field athletes continue to provide some of the performances to decorate this Championships.
For results from day one of the UK School Games 2008, click here