Welsh Schools enjoyed another positive Combined Events International performance as they matched the 2 team medals picked up in Athlone in 2016 and added an individual silver with Ben Hillman (St Teilo’s) finishing an agonising 4 points short of gold in the Under 16 boys’ standings.
The event saw a staggering 35 new personal bests set by Welsh athletes as well as 7 top 10 finishes overall and 10 athletes breaking the 3000 points barrier, many for the first time in their athletic careers. The impressive Emirates International Arena proved a fitting backdrop for a string of fine performances, well supported by the large contingent of family and supporters who had made the long journey north.
The team of 16 plus 7 support staff had made the journey to Glasgow on Thursday. After settling in and the evening meal there followed the customary team meeting led by Steve Jones, Nigel Lewis and Fran Baker as well as passionate and heartfelt contributions from team captains Taiya Jones (Stanwell) and Harri Wheeler-Sexton (Gartholwg).
Battle commenced at 10:15 on the Friday morning, the Under 18 boys were the first on the track as they tackled the 60m Hurdles, all produced solid performances with Thomas Britt (Coleg Gwent) recording a new personal best of 8.88s. Next event was the shot which saw a further 2 personal bests for Harri Wheeler-Sexton with 12.95m and Daniel Murathodzic (St. Illtyd’s), Daniel followed this up with a blistering 23.15s in the 200m, Harri also recording another best with 23.49 which lifted him into 4th. place overall. The Long Jump saw the first pb of the day for Harvey Reynolds (Caldicot) with an impressive 5.60m on his third attempt following fouls in rounds 1 and 2, this was followed up with 2:08.98 in the 800m for yet another best which moved him beyond the 3000 point barrier. Harri eventually finished in 8th overall (3317 points).
The Under 16s also got underway with 60m Hurdles, following a solid 8.76s in this first event, Ben Hillman rattled off 4 personal bests with 6.35m in long jump, 23.91s in the 200, a 11.23m shot and a real burn-up over 800m as he recorded 2:05.49. There were also four bests from debutant Zak Wall (Cardiff High) with a 5.80m long jump, 24.18 in the 200m, 11.85m in the shot and 2:19.64 in the eight, good enough for 3015 points overall. Dylan Phillips (Bro Gwaun) was another to smash through 3000 points as he recorded 3 pbs at 60m Hurdles (9.19s), long jump (5.47m) and 200m (24.24s), this carried him to 3054 and 7th. place overall. Not to be outdone Ben Henson (also St. Teilo’s) picked up new personal bests at 60m H (9.15) and an 11.18m shot put. These performances earned a team bronze behind winners Ireland and England in second.
All 4 Under 18 girls scored over 3200 points as well as all finishing top 10 overall. Emilie Davies (Gwynllyw) was another recording 4 personal bests with 9.00m in the shot, 5.18m in long jump, 1.59m in high jump and 2:32.76 in the 800m giving her 3290 points overall and 8th. place, going one better was Taiya Jones as she recorded 3309 points including a new best in long jump (5.31m), Grace Morgan (Radyr) scored 3263 with new best at 60m Hurdles (8.83s) and Emily Thomas (Cwm Rhymni) set 2 new pbs with a 9.19m shot and a 2:44.76 800m. This was enough to win the second team medal of the day, this time it was England taking gold, Ireland in second and Wales not far behind.
The Under 16s suffered a set-back shortly before the first event as Carys Poole (Gwyr) turned her ankle in warm-up, she did go on to complete all 5 events but was clearly under par. There were 2 3000+ scores from Caitlin Mapps (Islwyn High) as she recorded 3032 points which included a 10.35m shot (new personal best), and Gabby Dickinson (Llanishen High) with 3002 points which was punctuated by 2 new bests in shot (7.55m) and 800m (2:30.42). Beca Roberts (Bro Pedr) finished only 3 points short of the 3000 point benchmark but has the consolation of 4 pbs, a 4.97m long jump, 1.53m high jump, 7.86m in the shot and 2:30.82 in the 800m. The girls were only 20 points short of the team medals, a great performance for 4 debutants.
Support for athletes on the day was provided by a coach attached to each team, Steve Jones (Under 18 Boys), Fran Baker (Under 16 Boys), Nigel Lewis (Under 18 Girls) and Phil Wawricker (Under 16 Girls). Thanks go to Welsh Athletics and Cardiff Archers for the generous support which facilitated Fran’s and Phil’s attendance. In addition to this WSAA provided 2 team managers in Joan Goldsmith and Naomi Davies as well as International Secretary and WSAA Vice Chair, Dai Gatehouse. Thanks go to all who worked tirelessly on the day to help and support our young athletes and produce another memorable championships.