All roads lead to Birmingham as Suffolk’s leading youth athletes take part in English Schools Championships
- Credit: Archant
Young athletes from Suffolk and Essex have enjoyed considerable success at the English Schools Track & Field Championships in recent years, and again a good contingent from East Anglia will be converging on Birmingham for the 2017 Championships, which start today.
The one cause for concern is that Suffolk will have no representative in the junior boys’ age group, the youngest category, which has not happened for many, many years.
This could just be down to a lean year, or it could be a reflection of promising school athletes not being channelled into the local club environment.
A total of nine Championship Best Performances were recorded at the annual Suffolk Athletics Championships, which were held on the Northgate track in Ipswich in May, and several of these record-breakers will be in action.
More recently, most were involved in the Anglian Schools event, where Suffolk finished second to Cambridgeshire.
Cameron Bailey set two CBPs in the under-17 men’s sprints at Ipswich, lowering the 100m mark to 11.1secs and the 200m to 22:4.
The impressive Bailey, a pupil at Kesgrave, will be in action over 200m, while Joshua Oshunrinde, of Saint Felix School in Southwold, will tackle the 100m. He has a personal best of 10.89.
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The trio of Olivia Allum, Bella Keeley, Gemma Ramsey also celebrated CBPs at the Suffolk event in May, and they too will be competing with the best in the country this weekend, at intermediate level.
West Suffolk AC member Allum, from Culford School, clocked 4mins 45.5secs to re-write the county championship record books over 1,500m, and she will again be in action over this distance. Allum has a personal best of 4:36.68, set at Milton Keynes a month ago, and so won the steeplechase title at the Anglian Schools Champs.
Keeley, a specialist 300m hurdler, set a CBP of 47.0secs at the County Championships, although the Royal Hospital School student has gone quicker with a 46.80 clocking to win the Suffolk Schools title at Bury.
Likewise, her Ipswich Harriers team-mate Ramsey, a javelin thrower from Farlingaye High, has a best from Peterborough of 41.85m. She won the county title with a CBP of 38.91m, and the Anglian Schools crown (39.71m).
In all, there are 33 members of the Suffolk team, with 13 boys and 20 girls.
In addition to Bailey and Oshunrinde, the trio of Joshua Hulse (800m), Nathan Goddard (3,000m) and Teddy Ntuli (100m hurdles) will be on the track in the intermediate age group, with Kieron Sadler, Finn O’Reilly (both javelin) and Oliver Graham (hammer) competing in the field.
Hulse is a former English Schools champion, having struck gold in the junior boys’ 800m at Gateshead in 2015, and then taking a silver medal in the older age group, again at Gateshead last year in a then-PB of 1:53.68. He has lowered that to 1:52.7 this year, on his home track in Ipswich at a Southern League meeting.
Suffolk also have five athletes in the senior boys’ class, led by leading javelin thrower Don Baker, who will be competing at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas later this month.
RHS’s Emmanuel Ogunleye (100m), County Upper’s Christy Williams (800m), Daniel Cole (javelin) and Kesgrave High’s Chris Jones (high jump) will also be taking part.
In the girls’ half, the duo of Lonarra Youngs (Chantry Academy) and Kayley Earl (Sir John Leman, Beccles) will contest the junior 100m, with Maisey Armstrong and Jemima Bestley joining them for the 4x100m relay. Farlingaye’s Holly Fisher (1,500m) and Woodbridge’s Sophie Graham (javelin) are in the same category.
Hannah Lygo, who won the sprint double at both the Suffolk County and Suffolk Schools competitions, will embrace the intermediate girls’ 100m, with Megan Hughes (javelin) and Amy Davies (hammer) also in action, therefore joining Allum, Keeley and Ramsey in a strong age group.
Finally, Suffolk also look strong in the senior girls’ squad, not least on the track where Ipswich School’s Caitlin O’Reilly (100m) and Copleston’s Eldece Emery (200m) will tackle the sprints, and the experienced Sophie Tooley will be a force over 1,500m.
Megan Newton, in good form this summer, will toe the start-line for the gruelling 3,000m, with County Upper School’s Holly Davies hoping to go well in the equally tough 1,500m steeplechase.
Away from the track, Janae Duporte-Clarke, of Suffolk One, will be in the triple jump, Woodbridge’s Laura Graham will compete in the javelin and Copleston’s Lana Fulcher should go well in the hammer.