English Schools 2017

Harriers excel at English Schools Champs

Five members of Colchester Harriers were among the 2,000 young athletes who flew the flag for their Schools’ county teams at this year’s prestigious English Schools Track and Field Championships on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 July, bringing home four medals between them.

Top young athletes in each County had been selected to represent their County team in a full range of events on both the track and in the field.  Competition is divided into Junior (U15), Inter (U17) and Senior (U19) age groups.  The prestigious event and highlight of the Schools athletics calendar is often where the next generation of senior athletes have their first taste of success at a National level.

The action packed two days kicked off bright and early on Friday morning with the first straight final of the weekend; Intermediate Boys Javelin, where Finn O’Reilly, competing for Suffolk – an event that saw him place 5th as a Junior Boy last year –  increased his PB by 6.40m to win a superb bronze medal with an enormous throw of 60.68m. A remarkable achievement considering he has only competed with this weight (700g) once before.

Over in the stadium, day one was all about gaining qualification for day two’s track finals; Senior Girls Rebecca Jeggo (Team Essex) and Caitlin O’Reilly (Suffolk Schools) both competed in the 100m. Jeggo, two times previous finalist in the 200m, chose the shorter sprint this year and despite going into her heat as a good contender, was the only heat to face a head wind (-1.8) and sadly was just not able to make up ground after a hesitant start and finished 4th in a time of 12.53s.  Just minutes later the wind had turned itself around for the second heat and O’Reilly fought well to also take 4th place in a time of 12.40 but being just outside the qualifying time for the final, neither she or Jeggo progressed through.  With no relay for either to compete in, unfortunately this was the end of the championships for both girls.

Junior Boy, Graig Anya Joseph in his first ever national competition eased through his 100m heat to qualify quickest in a new PB and club record of 11.13s.  His semi later that afternoon tested his nerves as he had to cope with three false starts. However, displaying great maturity, he remained focused and executed another good race to again finish in first place equalling his earlier time.

Anya Joseph also competed for Team Essex in the 4x100m heats, bringing the baton home to qualify for the final on Day two in a time of 44.40s.

Day two and with temperatures rising it was the turn of English Schools debutant Charlie Dobson to take to the track for the heats of the Senior Boys 200m.  After a re-call by the starter, all athletes finally got cleanly away and Dobson soon took control, and eased home across the line first in 21.50s.  He then ran the second leg of the 4x100m relay with Team Essex qualifying for the final despite having lost one of their top sprinters from the squad.

Lining up for the final of the Junior Boys 100m Anya-Joseph once again displayed a calmness above his years and fought well after a poor start to storm through the field to claim a superb silver medal (11.17s) in a race that was split by just over half a second from first to eighth place.

In one of the most anticipated sprint finals of the championships, Dobson lined up next to the double English National Champion (Surrey’s Romell Glave, 100m and 200m).  As they entered the home straight Glave was characteristically metres ahead, but Dobson, making good use of his relaxed technique drove through to provide one of the most exciting competitions of the day, to finish a mere five hundredth of a second behind him to take a spectacular second place, and yet another PB and Club Record in a time of 21.20s.

In the relay finals, Anya Joseph earnt himself a Bronze medal, bringing the baton home for the Essex Junior Boys in a time of 44.26s. Whilst the Senior Boys, with Dobson once again running the long second leg, only managed to secure 5th place.

Sadly, Harriers top female thrower and Senior Girl, Phillipa Davenhall had to withdraw from the competition due to a knee injury just days before the championships.  However, showing fabulous resilience and great sportsmanship, she attended the Championships and provided great support to her team mates.