Emily Delivers at English Schools

14-year-old Emily Williams repeated her breakthrough performance from earlier in the year when she won English Schools Cross Country championships, with a Podium finish in the English Schools Track & Field championships in Gateshead.

Emily Williams secured her first podium finish at a National Track & Field championships

The English Schools Championships are the pinnacle of the sport for schools age children, and Emily was under intense pressure to deliver following her success on the cross country and she delivered in style winning a magnificent silver medal in the Junior girls 800m final.

There were two other Harriers in action in the championships, with 18 year old Jack Hope just missing out on a podium finish with a superb run to finish in 4th place in the Senior Boys 2000m steeplechase, and 14 year old sprinter Erin Healy running for the first time at the championships, giving a great account of herself in the Junior Girls 200m heats.

The championships were held at Gateshead International stadium, which is a wonderful setting, and although conditions were blustery the championships were run in their typical highly efficient manner. During the Parade held on the Saturday afternoon all the athletes and spectators were treated to an inspirational speech from former World record Holder, Olympic Bronze medallist and BBC athletics pundit, Brendon Foster. He explained how many of our current Olympians, Mo Farah, Jess Enis and Greg Rutherford were all competitors at English Schools, and not all were winners at this young age.

On day 1 Emily had to endure the fierce qualifying rounds, running in heat 3 and with only the top 2 guaranteed a place in the final Emily was perhaps more nervous of a potential slip up. She need not have worried as she ran a very smart race and took control of her heat from the gun taking the lead and sensibly slowing the race down to conserve energy, splitting in 69 seconds. The second lap picked up in pace and Emily held the inside lane and always had enough to hold off the challenge on the home straight and won her heat in 2:16.55 from Greater Manchester’s Keely Hodgkinson (2:16.58), with both girls comfortably through to the final. 

On day 2 of the Championships a relieved Emily was able to watch most of the heats & finals before her race, which was one of the last, and perhaps look for inspiration to help her with her final. Emily ranked 3rd in the UK was perhaps expected to podium, but the finals of a major championship are always intensely competitive so there was no place for any complacency.

The race got underway and as expected the UK leading athlete by some margin, Molly Canham from Devon, went out hard and went to the front to control the race. Emily also go away well and by the 200m mark she had settled into second place chasing after Canham to try and close the gap. This worked well for Emily who split in a fast 63 seconds to lead a chasing pack into the back straight where she continued to give chase. Canham unfortunately proved too strong on this occasion and maintained her lead to take the title in a fast 2:10.07, with Emily always able to hold off any challenger for Second place finishing in a fine 2:12.35, just 0.1 second off her best to win a magnificent Silver medal. 

Emily was relieved and overjoyed at making the podium, her target at the start of the season, and she delivered when the pressure was on and proved her credentials to be able to win medals at a major track championship. Coach Shane Smith said, “This was a magnificent weekend of running from Emily showing great maturity in easing through the heats and registering with a podium finish in the final of the most important track & field event in the country.” He added “Emily came of age at this championship and if she continues to show the dedication in training which has led to her breakthrough this year there is no reason she can’t go on to repeat this on the International stage going forward.”

Emily Williams fast finish for a Magnificent Silver Medal in JG 800m

Jack Hope also enjoyed an excellent race in his last race at English Schools before he departs to Cardiff University in September. Jack finished with a terrific late surge in the race to chase down 3rd place athlete in the hunt for a bronze medal at the 2k Steeplechase. Sadly Jack could not quite mange this and he ended up finishing in an agonising 4th position just 2 seconds behind the eventual bronze medallist Archie Walton from Somerset.

Jack got off to a good start but decided not to follow the fast early pace and leave some for the final 600m, this worked well sitting in a chasing pack and concentrating on an efficient technique clearing the barriers, Jack has worked hard on improving the water jump and this was evident with him making up meters on most of his competitors. 

After the penultimate water Jump Jack made his move, and powered his way to the bell lap, and then responded once again on the back straight taking meters of the tiring Walton, and in the final home straight just as Jack made a final challenge to pass Walton, he managed to find enough for a final surge to hold him off. With all the excitement of chasing down third place Jack also had to fend of another challenge from 5th place athlete Logan Smith form Norfolk who he edged out by the narrowest of margins to take a superb 4th place in a huge new 5 second PB of 6:04.46.

Jack Hope superb race in 2ksc to finish just ouside the medals in 4th place

Jack was happy with the run, but on the strength of his last 600m he was perhaps regretting not kicking with 800m to go? Coach Shane Smith said “Jack had his best race over the barriers since converting to a steeplechase specialist 2 years ago, his technique over the barriers and water jump has improved immensely and he can now go on to University and look continue his success on the National & International stage.”

Sprinter Erin Healy had a successful introduction at her first taste of English Schools competition, and she put in a highly credible performance in heat 3 of the 200m in blustery conditions to finish 6th in her heat with a time just outside of her PB with 26.31. Erin set a time faster than 8 of the 24 competitors and will take a great deal from her first experience on the big stage and no doubt a huge amount of inspiration to help motivate her to return in future years. Coach Ann Innis, who was also experiencing English Schools for the first time as a coach, said “Erin handled the whole experience of top flight competition in her stride and put in a hugely credible performance, and I hope she can use this experience for future years, and continue with all the hard work which resulted in her reaching the qualification time and being selected this year.”

Erin Healy fine race in the JG 200m heats

Well done to all three athletes, who all put in terrific performances, and represented the Club, Town and County with distinction.