Suffolk youngsters star at schools’ athletics championships

Michael Bartrum on top of the winner's rostrum

Michael Bartrum on top of the winner's rostrum - Credit: Archant

Suffolk excelled at the English Schools’ Track & Field Championships, claiming three gold medals and a silver at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium.

Cameron McKie (blue vest, No. 75) on his way to a PB over 800 at Birmingham

Cameron McKie (blue vest, No. 75) on his way to a PB over 800 at Birmingham - Credit: Archant

Harry Hughes (intermediate boys’ javelin), Michael Bartram (intermediate boys’ 1,500m steeplechase) and Benson Craven (junior boys’ long jump) all struck gold.

And there was also a silver medal for Marshall Childs, who finished a runner-up to Hughes in the javelin event with 63.19m.

Bartram ran a stunning race, taking the win and, in the process, earning selection for England at the upcoming Schools International match in Dublin.

Going into the event, Bartram had not had the best build-up with a niggling leg injury hampering his early season performances.

This meant he was only ranked seventh before the race, with a season’s best of 4mins 32secs.

As the race unfolded he gradually picked off the runners ahead until, hitting the front on the final lap, he pulled away for what turned out to be a comfortable win in a huge new personal best of 4:20.

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Hughes who, like Bartram, is a member of West Suffolk AC, threw a personal best on his way to the intermediate boys’ javelin title, a year after winning the junior boy’s crown.

Stowmarket-based Hughes recorded 68.75m, which eclipsed his previous best of 68.59m, which he had thrown at the Suffolk County Championships at the end of May.

He does not turn 16 until September, and so has another year in this current age group – he is the UK No. 1.

“It was very hot, but I tend to thrive in hot conditions,” explained Hughes.

“My best throw was the first one. Once again, it was an amazing experience to compete at these championships.

“My aim for the rest of the season is now to try and throw 70 metres, and that’s what I will be gunning for at the Home Schools International in Dublin, in a fortnight’s time,” added Hughes, who was third at the World Schools Games in the Czech Republic last month.

Suffolk’s third gold medallist was Benson Craven, of Ipswich Harriers.

He clinched the junior boys’ long jump title, with a best effort of 6.37m. His closest challenger was Somerset’s Aaron Chapman (6.21m).

Laura Graham, also of the Harriers, narrowly missed out on a medal in the junior girls’ javelin. She threw 33.41m to finish fourth, agonisingly close to Norfolk’s Abby Gooderham, who was third in 33.65m.

Meanwhile, of the other West Suffolk AC athletes in action, Cameron McKie was relieved to just be selected for the championships after nine months of injury and illness.

But a clear block of a few weeks of solid training, after such a long lay-off, saw him just reach the standard to be selected, and he went on to smash his PB in the heats of the intermediate boys’ 800m with 1:59.47 in sixth, taking almost two seconds off his previous best.

In fact, McKie only narrowly failed to qualify for the semi-finals – his excellent time also broke the long standing club record for the event.

Club-mate Sophie Tooley had won a silver medal in these championships over 800m last year.

She moved up to the 1,500m this time around, but was below-par due to a sore throat and breathing problems.

Even so, Tooley worked hard to qualify for the final. She was second going into the final bend of the final, but could not hold on and finished an agonising fourth in 4:34.

There were PBs for both Nella Walters (4:50) and Holly Davies (4:46) in the 1,500m heats.

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