Adele Nicoll was the standout performer for the Welsh Schools’ team at the 2012 Aviva SIAB Schools’ u17 track & field international, hosted by English Schools at the Julie Rose Stadium at Ashford in Kent.
The year 10 pupil rounded off a wonderful summer of schools’ competitions with a double throws success in the shot and discus. Her first major schools’ title this year came as early as May 9th with victory in the shot event in the Sainsbury’s School Games 2012 at the Olympic Stadium. That was followed by a shot and discus double, with a new shot best, at the Aviva Nationals on July 7th, and a new u16 discus best at the NASUWT Cymru Cup Final on July 11th.
At Ashord, Adele (Welshpool, Powys) opened her busy afternoon with the discus, and her best throw of 44.34 metres ensured victory by over three metres from Hannah O’Sullivan (Ireland, 41.28m). That winning throw was over six metres better that her 38.02 metres effort which gave her third place when the event was held at Cardiff last year.
Adele Nicolls (pictured) won the Shot and Discus
Almost immediately, she was back in action defending the SIAB shot title, which she won with a 12.76 metres put in 2011. This year, she was again in class of her own and, although the winning distance was, by her standards this summer, a relatively modest 13.16 metres effort, she won by 55 centimetres from Annabele Sherry (England), who also finished second last summer. Welsh team captain Awen Rosser (Strade, Dyfed, year 11) claimed the event bronze with a put of 11.06 metres, to go with her fourth place (39.58m) in the discus competition.
Only one Welsh girl has recorded a shot & discus double at this fixture – Phillipa Roles in 1993 in Ireland.
Although there were no other Welsh winners, there were a number of encouraging second and third place finishes – particularly from the girls - at a competition which, as expected, was dominated by athletes from English Schools.
In addition to the three medals from Adele and Awen, there were two more medals for girls in field events. Erin Walters (Bro Myrddin, Dyfed, year 10) produced a leap of 5.71 metres (+2.5m/s) to take bronze in the long jump with another year 10, Tasia Stephens (Treorchy, Glamorgan Valleys), going one place better in the javelin to take silver thanks to a fine throw of 40.24 metres.
On the track, three girls gained individual medals. Beth Sargent (Hawarden, North East Wales, year 11) dipped under 40 seconds (39.68) to finish second in her first-of-three outings during the afternoon, in the 300 metres. Year 9 Hannah Brier (Ystalyfera, Afan Nedd Tawe), a member of the winning Welsh Schools relay team at Cardiff in 2011, was just edged out of silver in the 100 – she recorded 12.04 seconds to the 12.03 of Lukesha Morris (England) – while the middle distance ‘find’ of the winter, Ellie Atkinson (Llantwit, Cardiff & the Vale, year 10), claimed bronze in the 1500 metres with a time of 4:32.71, the fastest by a Welsh girl at this meeting since Non Stanford’s 4:25.85 second placed run at Chelmsford in 2004.
Only two boys – both endurance athletes in year 11 - finished in the top three places.
Ellie Atkinson (pictured) won a bronze medal at 1500M
In the 1500, Kyran Roberts (Queen Elizabeth, Dyfed) ran over two seconds quicker this year than for his fourth place finish in 2011 but found that his encouraging 3:57.01 was good enough for only third place behind the England duo of Matthew Shirling, winner in a new best of 3:51.71, and Liam Dee (3:53.91). Connor Davies (Gwyr, Afan Nedd Tawe) had a similar experience in the steeplechase event over the same distance, running a super-quick (by Welsh standards) 4:20.56 but having to settle for third behind the England duo of Haran Dunderdale (4:18.45) and Jamaine Coleman (4:18.77).
Kyran Roberts finished third in the 1500M
That list of individual ‘medals gained’ never tells the full story, with many pupils producing new best performances. Perhaps one of the best examples is the steeplechase performance by Ciaran Lewis (Llanishen, Cardiff & the Vale). The year 10 hacked eight seconds off his personal best in finishing a very creditable 4:41.10 on his debut in a SIAB competition.
At the end of the meeting, there were mixed fortunes for the relay teams. The girls were a solid third in the sprint relay but, in the 4 x 300 metres, they found things much tougher and finished fourth. With Scotland and Ireland having major problems at the first change in the sprint relay, the boys’ squad had a good chance of the silver medals but, sadly, were disqualified while the 4x400 boys – Rhys Granville (Strade, Dyfed), Ryan Cooper (Llanishen, Cardiff & the Vale), Matthew Jones (Llanfyllin, Powys) and Matthew Collins (Barry Comprehensive) – made up for the frustration of their finishing positions in individual events by finishing second (3:26.78) behind England.
In the points’ competition, the boys finished fourth (102) – 32 behind Scotland – but the stronger showing from the girls – 137.5 to Scotland’s 100 – meant that the team finished third overall, the same as last year.
Welsh Schools would like to record its thanks to:
- English Schools for their excellent organisation
- International Secretary Mr Dai Gatehouse and the team managers
- The pupils who competed for Welsh Schools
- The Officers, parents, relations and friends who supported the team at Asford.
Next year’s event will be hosted by Irish Schools.
At the SIAB Annual General Meeting, held on the morning of the event, it was agreed to alter the hosting rota in 2014. Scotland were down to organise but, because the Commonwealth Games are being staged at Glasgow in July of that year, Welsh Schools will host a year early, on July 19th, 2014, with Scottish Schools taking the 2015 event.
Report by Peter Morris.