Alice Bates English Schools Delight!

Alice Bates fulfilled one of her childhood ambitions by winning the English Schools 1500m Championship with a magnificent performance which saw her take the Senior Girls English Schools title with a superb display of championship running. Bates who was competing in only her second Domestic Championship raised her game when it mattered most and followed in the footsteps of other KTH athletes from the recent past who were crowned English schools Champions, Emily Williams 2017 (800m), 2018, 2019 (1500m), and Indienne King in 2021 (800m). The Harriers have an outstanding track record at England's most prestigious National Championship with medals won in the last 8 consecutive English Schools Championships.


Alice Bates with a magnificent win in the Senior Girls 1500m


Bates set about her weekend with a qualifying heat on the Saturday which saw her produce a mature performance. With 4 to qualify automatically Bates sensibly sat at the back from the start to keep out of trouble, and just followed the pace through to the 1000m mark comfortably in the mid pack. Bates responded when one of the championship favourites Jess Bailey hit the front at the bell, springling to life she covered the move as both girls started to stretch the field and open a gap on the chasing pack. Both qualified comfortably with Bailey 1st in 4:32.78 & Bates in second in 4:33:00 dead.


Alice Bates who cruised through to the final in 2nd place, tucked in behind heat winner Jess Bailey


Day 2 Saw a confident Bates heading into the final, knowing all the hard work had been done she just needed to execute her race plan, but she needed to beat a high-quality field including European U18 Silver Medallist Jess Bailey, so she needed to be on her A game.


The final set off at a modest pace with nobody wanting to commit in the opening lap and Bates immediately sat in on the leading athlete to ensure she was able to respond to any change in pace. Bates decided to hit the front and take control of the race with 2 laps to go, stretching the pace slightly on the back straight with Bailey immediately covering her move and settling in behind her. Bates then injecting a significant surge in pace 100m out from the bell and immediately opened a 15m gap on the chasing pack, hitting the bell in 3:23 bates tactic of taking control of the race and pushing the pace over the final 500m was executed to perfection. Covering the last 500m in 1:26 she maintained the gap on the chase pack who were unable to close her down on the final lap, with Bates romped home to take the title in 4:32.00 dead with Bailey taking the Silver in 4:33.19 & Scarlett Livingstone the Bronze in 4:33.70.


Alice Bates takes the Gold, proud moment for her to receive her first major track title 


This was undoubtedly Bates most significant track win in her career, as a fledgling U13 athlete she dreamt of becoming English Schools Champion, but it was the way it was executed that impressed with a performance full of confidence and pace, indeed the live stream commentators comparing her performance to that GB middle distance legend Laura Muir, high praise indeed.   


Long time coach Shane Smith was also full of praise for his athlete for a Championship performance that he described as near perfect “I’m hugely impressed with the way Alice has approached the championship and executed her plan both in qualifying and in the final to perfection. She has been working on her pace this summer and her final 500m was truly excellent”. He added “Alice like most 18-year old’s has been sacrificing much of her life over the past 8 weeks in studying and sitting her A levels, she sets herself a very high bar in her academic work so we are now hoping she will be running stress fee for the remaining part of the season”.   


Alice was similarly delighted to take her first major track championship title “I remember how much I wanted to win English Schools when I was younger and how much it meant to me back a few years, so to have it come into fruition is incredible, especially as this is my final year in school and my last chance to fulfil that goal. This is a special moment I will cherish”.


Bates will look to see if she can set a European U20 Qualification time at the last attempt when she competes at the invite only British Championships in Manchester, a sub 4:20 clocking could see her force herself into serious contention for the GB team heading for Jerusalem in August, the location where she competed in at the U18 Championships winning her first GB vest in 2022.  


Also competing at English Schools was Junior girl Jemima Davey, competing for Somerset Schools due to her location at the impressive Millbrook School. Davey come into the competition in good form, but her time this season suggested she would have to run a PB to stand a chance to qualify in the most competitive championship of the season.


Davey ran a brave race keeping herself in contention until the final lap when a change of pace saw a breakaway group which she was unable to hang on to. Davey battled hard to the line running close to her SB in 4:46.52 she finished in a very respectable 6th place in the third heat, but with just three automatic qualifiers from each of the three heats and three non-automatic qualifiers she sadly missed the cut. Davey will take heart in the finishing place of 20th out of 38, especially in her first season at boarding school which has seen significant changes to her set up.


Jemima Davey (69) with a hugely credible performance in the Junior Girls 1500m


Junior Boy George Mills, competing at English Schools for the first time also put in a hugely respectable performance to finish in 11th place with a best throw of 41.98m just off his season’s best. It was a huge credit to Mills to be selected to represent the County at the English Schools Athletic Championships after just a short time throwing Javelin.


With a difficult swirling wind in the outside throws area outside of the main stadium, achieving something special was always going to be a challenge for all the Junior Boys with many of the favourites finding themselves with reduced distances.


George Mills with a hugely respectable 11th place finish in the Junior Boys Javelin


Mills final delivery force in launching the javelin was also affected by a lower back injury which impacted the final distance. Although disappointed, George has been lifted by the public’s reaction to his first appearance in the highest profile domestic National Championship, and he’s looking forward to getting fit and competing at both the Midland and National U15 Championships later in the season.


Special thanks must go to coach Lorna Barlow and the continued support from Isle of Man and GB Javelin Thrower Joe Harris who has been mentoring Barlow and the throws squad.


Well done to three Harriers flying the flag for the club and Northants Schools.