Many thanks to everyone involved at Brecon last Saturday:
- To Aviva for sponsoring the event
- To the pupils who competed for their district
- To the district team organisers and team managers
- To Brecon Leisure and the stadium staff for their help in the planning process and their huge support on the day
- To National Track & Field Secretary, Marian Williams, for all her work - before, on the day, and in the aftermath – to ensure that everything ran smoothly
- To everyone who contributed to event officiating on the day – technical & non technical - especially to Viv Thomas (Chief Official) and Stuart Hodson
- To Cheryl Albutt, our link to Aviva and UKA Athletics
- To Mr Graham Webb, for organising the presentation of awards
- To Welsh Athletics
- To British Red Cross for providing first aid cover.
- To International Secretary, Mike Walters, and the international team managers
- To the parents, who came to support their children
After heavy showers at Cardiff last year and the persistent rain at Brecon in 2008, it was nice to have a dry day for last Saturday’s Aviva National championships, our 63rd Nationals. The cool, blustery wind, gusting to more than 4 metres per second at times, may have been a help to the sprinters, hurdlers and horizontal jumpers but it created difficulties for the vaulters, high jumpers and endurance athletes.
Seven new championship bests were set – six in the girls’ events and one by a boy.
For the second year, it was David Guest (Bryntirion, Glamorgan Valleys) who was the star of the show, repeating his three victories of last year in the pole vault, long jump and 110 metres hurdles. The year 13, who appeared on the front cover of this year’s National programme, set new Welsh senior decathlon bests this year and has been selected to represent Great Britain & Northern Ireland at the World Junior Championships in Canada later this summer, with the strong possibility that he will be included in the Wales team for the Commonwealth Games to be held at Delhi in October.
Here he signed off a long and distinguished record at Welsh Schools National championships and in SIAB and UK School Games competitions with ‘routine wins’ in the pole vault and long jump but he upped his performance in the 110 hurdles where, with a legal following wind, he stopped the clock at 14.13 seconds to take 0.17 seconds off the previous best, set by James Archampong (Dyfed) in 1993.
That hurdles performance gained him the Colin Jackson Hurdles Cup and the Welsh Academicals Cup for the best track performance by a boy.
There were two new bests in girls’ track events.
On the previous Saturday, Heather Lewis (Sir Thomas Picton, Dyfed), still an u17 athlete, had been competing against seniors in the 5 km walk at the Aviva UK Championships in Birmingham. At Brecon, she was on her own in the 2 km walk but she underlined how much progress she has made by hacking nearly twenty seconds off her own championship best, and dipping under the 10 minute barrier with a time of 9:56.18, a performance which was rewarded with the presentation of the Kirsty Wade Endurance Cup.
The Price twins from Llandrindod High in Powys have been making their presence felt at National cross-country and track competitions for the last five years. Usually it has been Ffion, in her trademark baseball cap, who has grabbed the headlines, as she did on the previous weekend when she won the World Mountain Running Youth Challenge in Italy, but it was Rhianwedd who took top honours last Saturday by running an almost solo 1500 metres steeplechase, finishing with a time of 5:26.43. That took twenty seconds off Katie Reynolds (Afan Nedd Tawe) 2009 best, and gained Rhianwedd the JDB Williams Memorial Cup for the outstanding track performance by a girl.
In the field, there were new bests in the junior shot and hammer and the senior triple jump and hammer.
Make a note of the names Adele Nicoll (Welshpool, year 8) and Zoe Dakin (Llanhari, year 9, Glamorgan Valleys). Hopefully, we will hear more of them in the years to come. Adele bettered the old junior shot mark of 12.19 metres, set by Delyth Evans (Dyfed) in 1980, with all three puts, ending with a best of 12.62 metres while Zoe, on her two valid throws, added more than six metres to the previous junior hammer best of 33.41 metres set by Trudi Williams, also from Glamorgan Valleys, in 2008. Zoe ended just under the 40 metres mark, with 39.49 metres.
Those of us who think of Sian Swanson (Coleg Powys) primarily as a high jumper had a real surprise. With that competition not starting until 5 pm, the year 12 also contested the senior triple jump earlier in the programme and, on her fifth attempt, leapt out to 11.66 metres to add 38 centimetres to Sally Peake’s best, which the North East Wales athlete had set at Brecon in 2003.
The final new mark came late in the day, in the hammer. Having removed one Laura Douglas (North East Wales) mark when she set a new middle best at Cardiff with figures just under 50 metres, year 12 Toni Wells (Cwmcarn, South East Wales) had a real incentive to better Laura’s senior best. She did not disappoint and, as an added bonus also became the first girl hammer thrower at these championships to break the 50 metres mark, her sixth round throw landing at 50.03 metres.
With four new bests to choose from, the Awards group was spoilt for choice in deciding who should receive the TSB Cup for the outstanding girl field performance. Whatever their choice, there would be disappointment for some. They opted to make a joint award to the two hammer throwers.
The Guto Nyth Bran Cup, for the outstanding field performance, was also a joint award, with long jumper Jamie Morris (Maesteg, Glamorgan Valleys) and high jumper Ben Davies (Gorseinon, Afan Nedd Tawe) sharing the honour.
In the hotly contested team competitions, Dyfed claimed four age group cup, and reclaimed the Overall Points trophy, with Cardiff & the Vale retaining the junior boys award. The results team had a real headache in the middle boys’ section with Glamorgan Valleys finishing strongly on 99 points, which was not quite enough to take that cup from the joint winners, Dyfed and Cardiff & the Vale, who ended on a score of 100 points.
The provisional date for next year’s Aviva Welsh Schools’ National track & field championships is Saturday, July 2nd. The venue has not yet been finalised.
It is Welsh Schools’ turn to host the Aviva SIAB u17 track & field international in 2011. That event is scheduled for Saturday, July 16th, at Cardiff International Sports Stadium.