Steve Jones reports from the Emirates Indoor Arena, Glasgow, Saturday, November 3rd.
Welsh Schools enjoyed another positive Combined Events International performance as they matched the 2 team medals picked up in Athlone in 2016 and at last year’s event in Glasgow. However, this time around, added an individual gold with Zak Wall (Cardiff High) finishing almost 200 points ahead in the Under 16 boys’ standings.
The event saw a staggering 33 new personal bests set by Welsh athletes as well as 6 top 10 finishes overall and 6 athletes breaking the 3000 points barrier. 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 15 plus 8 support staff had made the journey to Glasgow on Friday. After settling in and the evening meal there followed the customary team meeting led by Steve Jones and Phil Warwicker as well as passionate and heartfelt contributions from team captains Grace Morgan (Radyr) and Ben Hillman (St. Teilo’s).
Battle commenced at 10:15 on Saturday morning, the Under 18 boys were the first on the track as they tackled the 60m Hurdles, all produced solid performances with George Powell (Blackwood) recording a new personal best in his race. George followed this up with a second PB in the 200m, a feat matched by team captain Ben Hillman as he produced a blistering 23.25s. The Long Jump saw yet another PB for George as he broke the 5m barrier for the first time. Ben Hillman was the only athlete to break the 3000 point barrier as he finished in 9th. place overall. Team mate Ben Henson (also St. Teilo’s) finished in 13th. after 5 events just pushing George into 14th.
The Under 16s also got underway with 60m Hurdles, following a big 8.47s PB in this first event, Zak rattled off a further 3 personal bests with 6.29m in long jump, 23.26s in the 200 and a real burn-up over 800m as he recorded 2:13.42. There were five event bests from debutant Louis Rochefort-Shugar (Glantaf) with a 24.61 in the 200m probably the most impressive. Sam Petherbridge (Olchfa) was another to pick up PBs at both long jump (5.81m) and 800m (2:12.39), this carried him to a top 10 finish overall. Charlie Holland (Bishopston) was another to PB in the long jump (5.59m), however a lane infringement in the 200m ended his chances of improving on his overall score. However, these performances earned a team bronze behind winners England and Ireland in second.
There were two 3000+ scores from our Under 18 girls as both Grace Morgan and Emilie Davies (Gwynllyw) scored 3323 and 3184 respectively to earn top 10 finishes (7th and 8th) with Grace setting a new high jump best of 1.53m. Beca Roberts (Bro Pedr) was another to set a new PB as she broke 5m for the first time with a 5.07, Beca finished on 2999 points, agonisingly short of the elusive 3000 point barrier. Sofia Vella (Corpus Christi) again produced 5 solid performances in support. This was enough to win the second team medal of the day, again it was England taking gold, Ireland in second and Wales with the bronze.
The Under 16s also produced 2 3000+ scores from Ellie Rose Isaac (Glantaf) as she recorded 3034 points which included a 5.08m long jump and a 1.56m high jump (both new personal bests), and Gabby Dickinson (Llanishen High) with 3076 points which was punctuated by 3 improved performances from the WSAA Championships 2 weeks ago. Both Evie Wong (Cowbridge) and Ella Jackson (Radyr) helped themselves to 3 PBs each as they both improved their points scores from NIAC. Despite holding on to second in the team standings up to the third event the girls eventually slipped to 4th. overall but can be proud of themselves after performances which showed great potential.
Support for athletes on the day was provided by a coach attached to each team, Fyn Corcoran (Under 18 Boys), Steve Boyles (Under 16 Boys), Phil Warwicker (Under 18 Girls) and Becca Chapman (Under 16 Girls), thanks also to Anthony Lee (Cardiff AAC) for providing additional support on the day. WSAA are grateful to Welsh Athletics for the generous support which facilitated this structure. In addition to this WSAA provided 2 team managers in Joan Goldsmith and Steve Jones 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 championship.