This years English Schools national championships took place at a sunny Sportcity in Manchester 9-11TH July. This event is the pinnacle of any young athletes competition calendar and is the largest junior athletics championships in the world. To be selected for your county is difficult enough but then to compete against the best athletes in your age group is a massive challenge.
Cherie Ufuoma was Bolton Harriers sole competitor this year where she was selected for the Junior girls 100m. The Year 9 Sharples School pupil qualified after winning the Greater Manchester county schools championships and with a top 15 UK ranking had high hopes of performing well.
She was drawn in the unfavoured lane 1 in her heat but despite this Cherie had no issues progressing through to the semi final easily winning her race in 12.58 seconds. Later in the day she was drawn in lane 5 in the second semi final with the UK’s 2nd ranked athlete to her left. She ran a very assured race to finish second and book her place in the final the following day.
Cherie knew preparation was everything so took on lots of fuel that night, had an ice bath to help her legs recover and an early night. More sunshine followed on the Saturday and Cherie duly lined up in the final with family, friends, her coach and her PE teachers cheering her on.
Nerves were jangling in the final and the athlete at the side of her twitched when in the set position and Cherie uncharacteristically made a false start. There were a few nervous moments hoping she wasn’t disqualified but the officials deemed it a faulty start and so she lived to fight another day. When the gun went a second time Cherie hesitated and didn’t get her usual blistering start. Despite running her hardest she finished an agonising 4th to just miss out on a medal.
It wasn’t all disappointment though, Cherie ran 12.48 seconds in the final which was not only a PB but also broke the Bolton Harriers club record. Cherie and her coach Les Hall are incredibly grateful to the PE staff at Sharples school who went above and beyond to enable her to compete in the qualifying event.
Next up are the Northern championships where Cherie hopes to bring home a medal.