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AS MANIC as it is marvellous, the 86th edition of the New Balance English Schools Championships at the Gateshead International Stadium came and went as quickly as many of the athletes taking part will rise and fall over the next few years.

Counties gather in Gateshead International Stadium at the official parade celebrating the 86th English Schools Championships

The build-up protracted and the pressure high, the championships are a staple in the competitive diets of all young athletes countrywide, and in Olympic year the English Schools’ significance is heightened as spectators and competitors alike look around at those athletes heading to the top.

Daryll Neita and Morgan Lake were both champions at intermediate level four years ago and are now headed to Rio while the likes of Matthew Hudson-Smith and Dina Asher-Smith have successfully cut their teeth at that level since.

However, chief guest Brendan Foster referred to the failures and successes of a crop of Britain’s top current athletes – also the focus of an AW feature last week – during the nascent years of their careers, including the likes of Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis-Hill, so while victors can enjoy the fruits of their labour, those disappointed need not beat themselves up over perceived failures.

Among those who shone brightest over the two days included a contingent of seniors (under-20) who are part of Great Britain’s World Junior team heading to Bydgoszcz next week including Hannah Williams in the 400m and Harry Hughes in the javelin.

In an adjacent arena Katie Head in the intermediate (under-17) hammer throw turned the embers of a searing hot competition into roaring flames with a UK age record, while Tilly Simpson continued to demonstrate her superiority at middle distances.

At junior (under-15) level the UK’s top two 800m runners, Max Burgin and Ben Pattison, contested one of the best head-to-heads seen over an action-packed two days of good competition.



BEING the current UK No.2 javelin thrower Harry Hughes had big expectations to live up to and duly delivered, producing a championship record throw of 73.41m on his final effort to continue his fine 2016 form.

Ben Claridge: Oxfordshire runner won the 400m

Selected to compete at next week’s World Under-20 Championships in Bydgoszcz, Hughes was seeking consistency, and while he didn’t produce the set of throws he was hoping for, fired his spear out to his third best winning effort of the year; beyond British teammate and runner-up James Whiteaker, who finished third at the British Championships in Birmingham in June.

“It wasn’t that good,” said Hughes, reflecting on his performance. “My first round was pretty scatty. I was quite nervous so my first one was just adrenaline fuelled. The second round I went 71 so that put me back so I could relax a bit after that. I was trying to work on technique and build it up again and in the final round to push it.”

Harry Hughes: 73.41m record

Despite contemplating whether to compete in his final year of English Schools the 18-year-old champion said: “I thought it’s my last year in the seniors and English Schools is a massive deal for me because I love competing here. It also gives you that extra experience you need in the international field.”

Last year’s champion over the 100m at under-17 level Camron Lyttle, let out a cry of relief as he rose to the occasion among the seniors, winning from the outside lane in a modest 10.98 ahead of Kesi Oludoyi (11.01) and Eden Davis (11.06).

Dogged by injuries with his glutes and adductors in 2016, Lyttle said: “Coming into today I was thinking I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it because in the warm-up yesterday I felt the pain again. In the heat and semi I lost twice to [Davis] who I always race against. It’s a relief to win.”

Finley Bigg: won a close 800m race

Tom Gale in the high jump also takes an English Schools victory into the upcoming World Juniors after a 2.12m clearance, as does European Junior Championship finalist from 2015 George Armstrong (55.17m) who won by more than six metres in the discus.

Competition favourite Owen Richardson was a shock disqualification in his 400m heat which left the win open for Oxfordshire’s Ben Claridge in 47.83, while West Yorkshire’s Connor Wood showed why he was tipped for 200m gold with a 21.53 run.

Finley Bigg (1:51.57), the son of Olympic legend Sally Gunnell, held off Daniel Mees (1:51.87) for a tight 800m victory.

Bedfordshire’s Benjamin Davies’ (3:52.80) win was even narrower over James Gormley (3:52.99) in the 1500m and Sam Stevens took the 3000m title in the absence of big favourite Alex Yee in 8:24.91

A 64.40m effort secured gold for Jamie Kuehnel in the hammer and Daniel Cartwright was the only shot putter to go beyond 16 metres – he did four times – winning in 16.56m.

Zach Harrop’s cleaner scorecard saw him get the better of Nathan Garner in the pole vault with both clearing 4.40m. Jacob Veerapen (14.74m) in the triple jump and Reynold Banigo (7.19m) in the long jump won their respective competitions, albeit in fields of five athletes.

Zach Harrop: 4.40m vault

Also enjoying victories were William Aldred (14.59) in the 110m hurdles, Joe Fuggle (53.72) in the 400m hurdles and William Battershill (5:49.44) in the 2000m steeplechase.

The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for silver medallist over the steeplechase, John Millar, who lost his shoe mid-race, and ran back to remove the obstacle from the track before going on to clock a PB.



HANNAH WILLIAMS may have bigger fish to fry right now with the World Under-20 Championships starting next week, but the Hertfordshire runner treated English Schools with the respect it deserves, delivering the first ever sub-54 time in the championship’s history to dominate the 400m.

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About AW – Athletics Weekly Magazine

ACTION 6 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS Greg Rutherford and Dina Asher-Smith are among the champions as Great Britain’s team wins 16 medals in Amsterdam 8 Men’s track reports 16 Men’s field reports 20 Women’s track reports 28 Women’s field reports 34 ENGLISH SCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIPS Hannah Williams and Harry Hughes set championship records in Gateshead 36 Boys’ reports 39 Girls’ reports 46 US OLYMPIC TRIALS Jenny Simpson, Tori Bowie, Jenn Suhr and Bernard Lagat are among the winners securing Rio places NEWS 50 London 2017 progress pleases IAAF 52 Kemboi offers Turkey justification PERFORMANCE 56 Latest sports science news 58 Athlete Insight – Rachel Wallader 60 The new rules of hydration 62 Are you your own worst enemy? 64 Product reviews – vests RESULTS & FIXTURES 66 Top results from last weekend 76 Monaco Diamond League and European Youth previews 77 What’s On – fixtures guide REGULARS 82 DIP FINISH

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