A windy Bedford saw several stunning performances and new championship best performances both on the track and in the field. The boys led the way in the sprints, while the girls excelled in the field on a day of smashed personal bests, superb races and keen competition in the throwing events.
The first field action in the field took place in the discuss cage, where a brilliant battle emerged between English Schools’ champion Sophie Merritt and world youth star Georgie Taylor. Both ladies swapped the lead and traded personal bests before Taylor claimed the victory with a new championship best performance of 47.04m. Later in the day, Merritt was involved in the shot where she was again the runner up; this time losing out to another new championship best performance from Adele Nicoll, who added 3cm to the old record, powering her shot to 13.98m.
On the track, the action came thick and fast, with the 100m heats proving frighteningly quick on the new Mondo track surface. For the girls, world youth star Shannon Hylton caught the eye with her 11.82 clocking in heat three of the U17s. The boys were the real stars though, as all three U15 heat winners recorded times just outside 11-seconds. And in the U17 men’s heats, last year’s U15 champion Owin Sinclair looked very impressive with his 10.71 time. A strong tailwind played its part in assisting the sprinters with their lightning times but all the competitors looked strong in their victories.
The longer sprints for both age groups and genders saw the expected protagonists win through to the semi-final and finals, with Ben Robbins in particular looking strong in his U17 heat. In the younger age group boys’ 300m, all three English Schools’ medalists ran out easy winners and it would appear the same result will occur in tomorrow’s final.
Off the track, U17 heptathlete record holder and UK high-jump record holder Morgan Lake was a double gold medal winner with victories in both the long jump and high jump. In the high jump, Lake leaped to 1.88m, adding 5cms to the old championship record and narrowly failed in her attempts to jump 192cm, which would have improved her personal best from 190cm.
As the afternoon came, the great sprinting continued. First up was the U15 final, where hot favourite Kesi Oludoyi – the faster ever UK U15 boy after his scorching 10.83 in the English Schools’ final earlier in the year – was surprisingly beaten into third place by Michael Olson, who became the quickest ever Scottish boy and Camron Lytlle, whose powerhouse performance saw him rewarded with a time of 10.80 and take the UK best-ever 100m time in his age group from Oludoyi, as well as the gold medal.
Sinclair continued to lead the U17 times in the men’s semi-finals and was expected to add to his title from last year. His 10.56 clocking draw gasps and applause from the crowd, and he improved that even further in the final to 10.50. However, it wasn’t enough to win as Welsh sprint sensation Shaun Pearce smashed his personal best to 10.42 and claimed a convincing win over his rivals, and record another championship best performance in the process. Morro Bajo took bronze. The commentator had earlier announced the final “could be quite exceptional” and he was proved right.
Elsewhere, Cherice Hylton followed up her English Schools’ victory in July with an easy win in her 300m heat win, while her fellow medalists followed suite. And in the U17W’s 1500m final, there was a great battle down the home straight between Kathryn Gillespie and Ellie Baker with Gillespie holding her form to pip Baker on the line.
Some of the biggest applause of the day was reserved for the ambulant races where athletes of all classes put on spirited performances to record personal bests and give the crowd fine displays in both track and field.
Day two will see more reigning champions and world youth stars compete, and with the promise of equally great conditions. Hopefully we will be treated to more records being broken and top class junior athletics.