As ever this year’s English Schools Championships were excellently
organised with the best young athletes in the country producing great
performances in very good weather conditions. With the precision timing
of events this mini “Olympics” is both a spectacle and a somewhat
daunting event for young inexperienced athletes competing in front of a
very large number of spectators. Brendan Foster, John Mayock, Geoff
Capes and, Guest of Honour, BBC commentator Paul Dickinson would be
amongst the medal presenters. Sky Sports showed the Saturday afternoon
events live on television.
Chiltern Harriers had 3 athletes representing Buckinghamshire County Schools’ team at these championships - James McCarthy (Dr Challoners GS), Sophie East (Chesham High) and Connie Lewis (Dr Challoners HS). Sophie East had competed at these championships in 2010 but James and Connie were making their debuts and were primarily looking to gain experience from this prestigious event. All three had achieved the tough English Schools qualifying times to earn their County selection.
James McCarthy was competing in the Junior Boys (Under 15) 800m which had 3 heats from each of which the first two plus two fastest losers would make the final eight, tough qualifying. James had missed three weeks training at a critical time prior to these championships but had worked hard through June to get himself back to racing fitness. Even so he stood on the start line of the first heat ranked just 6th fastest of 10 competitors. He gave himself every chance of making the final by running a good first lap and moved into the lead going through the bell. Running fast down the back straight he managed to open up a 10 metre gap between himself and third place, and with the field closing in on him, a strong and determined finish enabled him to cross the line in first place. His reward, a new personal best time of 2mins 04.98 secs and a place in the final on Saturday. The 2nd place finisher (and eventual silver medallist) was just a hundredth of a second behind and third place, just one tenth of second behind, failed to qualify for the final. In the final James ran another great race to finish 7th just a few metres behind the bronze medallist in another personal best time of 2mins 03.24secs.
Sophie East, a first year in the Senior Girls (Under 19) age group was competing in the 100m which also had 3 heats from each of which the first two plus two fastest losers would make the final eight. Sophie finished 4th in the second heat, missing out on a place in the final, and was disappointed with her time 12.9secs which was outside her personal best.
Connie Lewis was competing in the Junior Girls (Under 15) 1500m which had 2 heats from each of which the first four plus four fastest losers would make the final 12. With each heat having 15 competitors qualification for the final was going to be tough. Connie finished 12th in her heat in a time 4mins 58.88 which was outside her personal best but the experience will be invaluable for the future.
Chiltern Harriers AC