ESAA English Schools’ Championships

Weekend, 7-8th July 2017

Four Bolton athletes travelled down to Birmingham to compete at the 2017 English Schools national championships. Ben To, Taiwo Taiwo and Hannah Kelly were all selected to compete for Greater Manchester Schools and Georgia Lever was to pull on the vest of neighbours Lancashire since moving to a college across the border last year.

Ben To was competing over 100m in the Junior boys category in his first ever English Schools’ competition. The fast starting Harrier blasted away and ran powerfully despite a slight stumble at 40m and managed to finish fifth in a time of 11.64 seconds. This was an agonising 0.01 seconds outside the qualifiers for the semi-final but Ben is determined to qualify again for next year. He later ran the first leg of the 4x 100m relay which saw the Greater Manchester team qualify for the final on Saturday. Unfortunately luck wasn’t on their side and in the final, whilst the team was closing in on a medal, the Manchester last leg runner suffered a cramp and was unable to finish.

Inter girl Taiwo Taiwo has promised much this year but her season’s preparations have been interrupted by sore knees. Despite this she lined up in the semi-final with high hopes. She ran a fantastic bend but slowed in the last 50m. Despite running 25.51s (only 0.14s outside her PB) and finishing fourth, she missed out of the final.

16-years-old Hannah Kelly, fresh from her new PB at the England Athletics U20 championships, also lined up in the Inter girls 200m. In her heat, she ran her usual perfect bend, transitioned into the straight and cruised to the line in the fastest SF time of 24.47s. For the final, she lined up in lane 6 with her main competitors inside her; she came off the bend running strongly but Kiah Dubarry-Gray finished a little stronger to finish first and push Hannah into second place. Hannah was delighted, finishing one place higher than last year, and has now been selected to run for England again at next weekend’s SIAB school international in Dublin.

Senior girl Georgia Lever has been a revelation this year. Still a novice in the Triple Jump, she won the silver medal at this year’s Northern Championships which saw her selected in the Lancashire team. After a no jump in the first round, she got a safe jump in the second round. This gave her the platform to push for a bigger jump and try to qualify for the final three attempts. She didn’t disappoint and in the third round leapt to 11.38m to record a PB. Georgia didn’t waste any of these three extra jumps and went on to finish with a massive 11.68m, earning her fourth place on the day. Many athletes would be disappointed to get so close to a medal but she was delighted, commenting “To jump four PBs in one competition and to record a National Standard in only my sixth ever Triple Jump competition is amazing”. Georgia has also been selected to compete for the North of England against the best jumpers from the South, the Midlands, Wales, and Welsh Schools next Wednesday in Cardiff.

Taiwo and Hannah made up half of the Greater Manchester 4x 100m relay team. In the semi-final, they were pipped into second by a very strong Surrey team, but Surrey were later DQ’d for a faulty changeover. Confidence was high going into the final knowing that the silver medallist from the 100m individual event, Trinity Powell, was on last leg. They ran a fantastic race but just missed out on the gold medal to London. However winning a medal of any colour is any junior athletes’ dream at the English Schools. Both girls were delighted to come away with a silver medal and it rounded off a fantastic day for the Greater Manchester team who won so many medals.

Coach Les Hall, who was at the finals supporting his athletes was delighted – “All four athletes performed at National level and did themselves and Bolton United Harriers proud. They will all work hard to be selected next year and push for even more medals.”