Many thanks to everyone involved at Newport last Saturday:
- To the athletes who competed for their district schools and/or clubs
- To the parents, who supported their children by bringing them, in some case significant distances
- To the team organisers and team managers
There were teams from the six south and mid Wales districts, and individuals from the two north districts
- To Andrew Mort and the stadium staff for their support in the planning process and their huge support on the day
- To Stuart Hodson for his unfailing support and encouragement, his experience, his ability to make miracles happen in terms of the officials, and the almost seamless transition that he organises for athletes in moving from event to event.
- To everyone who contributed to event officiating on the day.
Some of the people involved were our highly experienced qualified officials, but there were also teachers and parents contributing. Without a huge cooperative effort, we could not get through
- To James Thie, the Welsh Athletics Competition Manager, and his wife
- To Mrs Kath Elias, the Meeting Manager, and
- To Mr John Penny, the Welsh Athletics President
- To Mrs Hilary Goodger for providing first aid cover.
Referee Stuart Hodson also had a special thank you to make: "On behalf of Welsh Athetics,Welsh Schools' and myself as Referee,I would like to thank all officials,teachers,coaches and parents for their fantastic help on Saturday. Without them, the meeting would not have been the success that it was."
There were a small number of event changes this year from the pattern held at sunny Swansea in 2009. At senior boys (u20) the 1500 metres was replaced by the 1000 metres, scored off the IAAF indoor tables, while the senior girls had the more familiar high jump replacing the javelin. For the u13 competitors, the high jump was removed to leave a quadrathlon.
The only competitor to top the 3000 points mark was Megan Rogers (NE Wales & Wrexham) in the senior section. After a wonderful summer in 2008, injury took its toll last year, so it was really encouraging to see the year 13 student back to her best and, for good measure, she pulled the rest of the small field to some respectable scores.
In the senior boys, the Dyfed pairing of Paul Bennett (Penglais) and Glen Elsdon (Dyffryn Taf) looked to be the class act before the day – they were two of the four members of the Welsh Schools u18 squad which won the team competition at last December’s SIAB indoor combined events international in Glasgow – and they produced the goods on the day to take the top two placings in a disappointingly small field, with the 2009 champion, Curtis Mathews (Barry Comprehensive), one of the notable absentees.
Highlight of the middle boys & u17 men’s competition was undoubtedly was the high jump event in which both Stephen Guest (Glamorgan Valleys) and Jamaul Whyte (Cardiff & the Vale) went over 1.90 metres. Jamaul bowed out at 1.92, with Stephen going on to clear 1.98, and having attempts at 2.10 metres. After the multi talented Rhys Williams (Glamorgan Valleys) had set the quickest time in the opening event, the 100 metres hurdles, it was defending champion Whyte who took control. Had he run the 800 this time as quickly as at Swansea, he might well have joined Megan Rogers with a score over 3000 points. Williams claimed the silver, with Mathew Davies (Dyfed), last year’s junior champion, taking bronze.
There was drama in the 800 metres in the middle girls and u17 women’s competition as long time leader Eleanor Badhams (NE Wales & Deeside) struggled at just over 3 minutes while Emily Dacey (Afan Nedd Tawe & Swansea) hung on better to the pace set by Lora Roberts (Glamorgan Valleys & Bridgend) for a 2:41 timing, and victory by nearly a hundred points.
With pre-event favourite Aled Price (Dyfed) missing the event with a back injury, the door was open for a second Dyfed pupil, David Omoregie (Pembrokeshire Harriers) and he made the most of it, setting top on-the day marks in the hurdles, high jump and long jump to finish nearly 400 points clear of the field.
Despite spirited 800 runs from Katherine Morris (Afan Nedd Tawe & Swansea), Rosie Unwin (Powys) and Annabel Curle (Cardiff & the Vale), it was greater consistency across all five events which bore fruit for Georgia Bates (NE Wales & Deeside), who won by over seventy points.
At u13, Hannah Brier (Swansea) and Nikita Neary (Carmarthen) added the outdoor Welsh Athletics titles to their indoor victories in November. Both youngsters produced significantly better points scores, with Neary particularly impressing with a 2:11.91 800 metres.
Five athletes from North Wales made the long journey south to compete and it is a delight to report that all five returned home with at least one medal.