The first of the winter’s indoor fixtures – the Joint Welsh Indoor Combined Events Championships at the National Indoor Athletics Centre, Cardiff, on Sunday, November 4th – has got the season off to a hugely encouraging start by attracting a record entry of 128 athletes.
Included in the programme of events, which starts at 11 am, are seven different age group competitions.
Welsh Athletics stages championships at under 13 (school years 6 & 7) and under 15 (school years 8 & 9) and an open competition at under 17 (school years 10 & 11) while Welsh Schools holds invitation competitions at under 16 (school years 9 & 10) and under 18 (school years 11 & 12).
Under 13 athletes take part in a quadrathlon which includes 60 metres hurdles, long jump, shot and 800 metres.
The older female athletes – u15 & u16 girls, u17 women & u18 girls – contest pentathlon competitions over the same five events that are used outdoors but with their hurdles distance reduced to 60 metres. Their events are 60 metres hurdles, long jump, high jump, shot and 800 metres.
In the older male competitions - u15 & u16 boys, u17 men & u18 boys – there is one significant change from the usual outdoor pentathlon. The high jump is replaced by the 200 metres, so the five events contested are 60 metres hurdles, long jump, 200 metres, shot and 800 metres.
Medals will be awarded to the first three individuals in the Welsh Athletics under 13 and under 15 championships and the Welsh Schools under 16 and under 18 sections – but there are no awards for the Welsh Athletics under 17 open competitions.
Some of the athletes entered have already made their mark in past indoor and outdoor competitions. Predicting potential winners is always a difficult task but these are some of the athletes to watch out for:
Welsh Athletics Championships
Under 15 Boys – 16 entries
The u13 outdoor champions of the last two summers compete head-to head. While year 9 Harry Hillman (Cardiff AAC/St Teilo’s, 45), the 2011 champion, has already made a significant impact in the under 15 ranks, this will be the first opportunity for Ben Parris (Cardiff AAC, 44, year 8), the 2012 winner, to make his mark over five events.
Under 15 Girls – 16 entries
Could this be one of those competitions where year 8 girls claim the top three places ahead of the more experienced year 9 athletes?
Watch out for the contest between the year 9 girls Lauren Davey (Carmarthen Harriers/Maes yr Yrfa, 75) and the Maldwyn Harriers duo of Vicky Gittins (Welshpool, 77) and Lauren Williams (Llanidloes, 76) and their younger rivals Sarah Omoregie (Pembrokeshire Harriers, 81), and the Cardiff AAC club-mates Lauren Evans (74) and Amy Ahia (73).
Under 13 Boys – 19 entries - and Under 13 Girls – 24 entries
Many of these athletes are competing at this level for the first time, and it will be interesting to see who has the determination and talent to finish in the top places.
Under 17 Men (Open) – 3 entries
Year 11 Kyle Arnold (Newport Harriers/Caldicot, 101) is the most experienced combined events athlete in this trio.
Under 17 Women (Open) – 4 entries
Three very experienced year 11 athletes – Claire Taylor (Cardiff AAC/Radyr, 117), Annabel Curle (Bridgend AC/Cowbridge, 117) and Rosie Unwin (Maldwyn Harriers/Llanidloes, 118) – will be vying for a top three placing both in this section and the Welsh Schools u18 championships, and all three should be looking of a points total over 2900 points.
Welsh Schools Invitation Championships
Under 16 Boys – 16 entries
The top three boys from last summer’s Welsh Schools u15 championships – Tom Trotman (Cowbridge, 66, year 10), Harry Hillman (Cardiff AAC/St Teilo’s, 45, year 9) and Tyler Pritchard (Blackwood, 65, year 10) - are entered plus another experienced year 10 in Nikita Neary (Dyffryn Taf, 72). Expect Harry to be leading after the opening hurdles races. Tom, possibly, has the edge at the long jump and shot, but beware of both Tyler and Nikita in the final event, the 800 metres. If the scores are close after four events, expect those two to be top ranked over four laps.
Under 16 Girls – 13 entries
Again, the top three from last summer’s u15 championships – year 10 pupils Jodi Beynon (Ebbw Vale, 89), and Welshpool school-mates Sarah Williams (97) and Abi Bowers (90) - are expected to be the front runners. Expect Jodi to head the field after the opening long jump while Abi is in a class of her own over the hurdles and Sarah was easily the top shot performer in the summer. After that, they may be evenly matched in the high jump and 800 metres, unless one them has used the last four months to make significant improvements! Scores over 2900 would be encouraging.
Under 18 Boys – 14 entries
With all four boys, who claimed the u16 team gold for Welsh Schools at the 2010 SIAB Indoor Combined Events international, an event re-arranged and held in February 2011 because of the bad weather in Scotland in early December 2010, entered, this has all the potential to be a high scoring competition.
That quartet, all now in year 12, were Aled Price (Maes yr Yrfa, 114), Luke Ward (Hawarden, 111), Matthew Collins (Barry Comprehensive, 103) and David Omoregie (115). On that occasion, Aled was the individual u16 winner with Luke and Matthew as the other team scorers. David had the huge disappointment of being disqualified for a lane infringement in the 200 metres.
Three of that quartet – David, Aled and Matthew - were included in the u18 team which were second to English Schools at Glasgow in December 2011 while David finished second in the individual competition, and broke Colin Jackson’s u17 Welsh national record over 60 metres hurdles.
Since that event in December 2011, David has endured a torrid time with injury and this will be the first time that he has competed for many months. Having also changed school, to Bishop of Llandaff in Cardiff, it would be sensible for him to ease himself back in at this fixture, but he is the defending champion and racked up a points score over 3500 in 2011! Aled won the England Athletics u17 decathlon for the second consecutive year this summer, and received the Welsh Athletics Male Junior athlete of the year award, while Luke won the Welsh Schools middle boys title at Newport in June.
This is, arguably, the strongest section in terms of quality athletes that Welsh Schools has assembled in this age group at this championship and if, as expected, all four want to be selected for Glasgow on December 1st, then a points total over 3200 may be needed.
Under 18 Girls – 13 entries
Year 12 Katherine Morris (Bishop Vaughan, 129) will be looking to extend her winning streak in the Welsh Schools competitions. She won the u16 section in 2010 and claimed this title with a hugely encouraging score of 3082 points, but she knows that she is going to have to work hard to retain that crown.
Katherine missed the outdoor championships at Newport, which opened the door for another experienced year 12, Georgia Bates (Prestatyn, 121), who just held on by 36 points to claim the middle girls’ title ahead of Annabel Curle (Cowbridge, 116, year 11) with two more year 11 pupils, Claire Taylor (Radyr, 117) and Rosie Unwin (Llanidloes, 118) a further 200 points back. All four will need to target a points' score over 3000 if they want to put real pressure on an in-form Katherine.
Please note that, in the Welsh Schools u16 sections, pupils will use u15 hurdles spacings and heights and the u15 shot while, in the u18 competitions, the u17 hurdles spacings and heights and the u17 shot will be used.
Welsh Schools Selection for the 2012 SIAB Schools’ Indoor Combined Events International
Following Sunday’s under 16 and under 18 indoor competitions, Welsh Schools will select teams of four athletes in all four sections to compete at the SIAB Schools’ Indoor Combined Events International, which will be held in a new indoor arena – one to be used for the 2014 Commonwealth Games – at Hampden Park in Glasgow on Saturday, December 1st.
Reporting for ALL Athletes
- Athletes are required to report to the Registration area at the right hand end of the first floor at the National Indoor Athletics Centre between 9 and 9.30 am on Sunday.
- The first track event – 60m hurdles for u17 men & u18 boys – plus the first field events – long jump for u15 & u16 girls and shot for u17 women & u18 girls and u13 girls – are due to start at 11 am. Warm up for those field events will start soon after 10 am.
- The Meeting Referee – Mr Stuart Hodson – will determine the start times for all other events taking into account appropriate rest requirements for athletes and the availability of facilities. As a result, the order of events, published above, may change.
- Spectators are advised that the car park at the National Indoor Athletics Centre is pay & display!
Death of Viv Thomas
Following the Joint Combined Events Championships at Newport in June, athletics in Wales was hugely saddened at the unexpected death of Viv Thomas.
Viv competed in the first Welsh Schools National track & field championships at Taff Vale Park, Pontypridd, in 1947.
In the following 65 years, Viv went on to make a huge contribution to our sport – both as an organiser of schools athletics in his beloved Rhondda and as a field judge. His easy manner endeared him to all who had contact with him – athletes and fellow officials – and his services as a top field official were in great demand from club to international level, even into his late seventies.
For over 15 years, Viv has been the ‘Chief Official’ for Welsh Schools, a title that was created by another great servant of Welsh Schools, Charlie Hughes, to underline the respect that our national schools’ association had for his contribution.
These joint indoor championships will be the first major schools’ competition since Viv’s death. As a mark of respect, just before the competition starts at 11 am, all present – athletes, officials and spectators – will be asked to stand for a minute’s silence.