English Schools Track & Field Championships 2016

Ben Claridge won a superb gold medal in the Senior Boys’ 400m at Gateshead on 9th July. Benefiting from an increased emphasis on speed training, the Tom King-trained athlete had been the fastest qualifier in the previous day’s heats (47.97). The White Horse Harrier then went on to record 47.83 for a convincing victory in the final.

There were two silver medals for the Oxfordshire girls. Amy Herrington’s consistent throwing in the Senior Girls’ Hammer was a credit to ex-international Paul Dickenson, who coaches her at the Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow club. It brought her second place, ahead of a girl above her in the national rankings. Amy had been third best in qualification with a throw of 51.55 but extended this to 54.89 to take silver in Saturday’s final.

Emily Thompson, coached by Ros Kelling at Banbury Harriers, put in a terrific performance in the Inter Girls 800m. Emily had finished in the heartbreaking 4th spot in the previous year’s final. With a string of consistent performances behind her, but knowing she was likely to be outsprinted in a tight finish, Emily wisely chose to front run her heat, which she won comfortably in 2:14.89, easing up to conserve energy for the final. In the final Emily was always well placed but in the finishing straight looked to be going backwards and out of the medals until a last-ditch revival saw her surge back to overtake one of her rivals on the line. She took silver by six 100ths to register 2:09.40 and clinch a spot in the England team for the Home Countries International at Ashford on 16th July.

The County team’s fourth medal went to another Banbury Harrier, Seb Hartwell. Reacting with great aplomb to his first experience of this high-pressure event, he took a bronze medal in the Inter Boys 400m. Having won his heat in 51.34, Seb went on to record a personal best of 49.85 in 3rd place.

Other finalists and top eight finishers for Oxfordshire were:

JG Hammer: Ella Lovibond – 46.85

JB Discus: 8th Adam Byles - 34.27

JB Javelin: 8th Daniel Kelly - 45.83

IG 80H: 8th Jade O’Dowda – 12.29 (wind -3.6) (11.45 in heat)

IG 4 x 100 Relay: 5th – 48.75

IB 400: 8th Matthew Coleman – 51.29 (50.80 in heat)

IB 800: 5th Will Crisp – 1:54.70

SG 100H: 6th Alice Hopkins – 14.50 (14.46 in heat)