Kettering’s King of England

Kettering's Indienne King capped a brilliant weekend of racing for the Harriers at the English Schools championships, by winning her first National title and become the English Schools Senior Girls 800m Champion with a magnificent run to win the title she has been desperate to win following 4 minor medal positions at National Championships.


Indienne King English Schools Senior Girls 800m Champion her first National Championship win 

There were also some outstanding performances from the Harriers contingent with two Harriers just missing out on the medal positions with a 4th place for Inter Girl Katie Gibson in the Hammer, and a 4th place for Junior Girl Alice Bennett, and fine 6th place finishes for Ryan Amesimeku in the Inter Boys 100m & Jacob Asher-Relf in the Junior Boys 800m, both making their ES debuts. All received a certificate to commemorate their top 8 finish.


This was an outstanding return for the Harriers who had a record number qualifying this year, and this underlines the progress athletes have made this season coming out of the most difficult of years during the pandemic. English Schools is highest level of domestic competition and the event most athletes strive to compete in, and ultimately win.


The competition was split over three days due to covid restriction, and held at the impressive Sports City athletics track, with a newly re-laid track. On Friday 09th It was the turn of the Senior Age athletes, with Indienne competing in the 800m. Sadly the format that English schools had decided on resulted in England’s top 16 athletes split into two heats which were effectively time trials. King, the top ranked athlete going into the competition, was seeded in the second heat so at least she knew what time she had to chase from the A final winning time, set by Greater Manchester's Ty Brockley-Langford in 2:10.8.


Indienne knew she had to change her normal racing approach and front run the race to ensure the pace was fast and give her the best chance for a Gold Medal. Knowing the target time she needed she raced the B final to perfection, starting aggressively and going through 200m in 29 seconds resulting in the field being immediately strung out with two athletes in hot pursuit of King. Splitting in 63 seconds she continued to push the pace opening up a large gap along the back straight, by which time the result was not in question, but King had to ensure she did not switch off and continue to maintain the pace and push through to the line. King ran a perfect race to record a winning time of 2:09.33 winning the A & B final by over a second to secure her historic win.


Indienne King wins the Gold in the Senior Girls 800m

17 year old King’s First Championship Gold medal is a great measure of her improvement since joining the Kettering Town Harriers at the start of the year, which has seen her win her first Junior GB vest competing at the prestigious Loughborough International, King is also the UK ranked No3 U20 as a bottom year athlete, and is ranked 10th in U18 European rankings. She is very happy with her progress and was deliriously happy with her win “ I cannot believe that I have won the English schools Championships.  I have always aspired to achieve the gold and to become English Schools  Champion - it is a dream come true! All the time and effort I put into my training has really paid off, and it feels amazing to come home with the Gold”.


Coach Shane smith was also delighted with her performance “The format used at the championships made it much more difficult for indie, it’s not her natural racing approach”. He added “ I was immensely impressed with the way she rose to the challenge of the format and the way she handled being the fastest seeded athlete in the field, this brings a different type of pressure which she handled in her stride.”  


McMurtrie was a little off her best, finishing in 14th place overall, but will take away a huge amount from the experience of competing for the first time at these prestigious championships.


In the Inter Girls Hammer Katie Gibson repeated her fantastic 4th place from 2019 to finish just out of the medals. Despite the reduction of throwing accessibility over the past 12 months Gibson has displayed great focus and determination taking her to her 3rd consecutive English Schools Championships.


The Long Throws were held separately from the main athletics events at Trafford AC and exposed some exciting prospect for the future.


Gibson opened her scorecard with a solid 46m followed by 48m 44cm in the second round which held her in 3rd spot until the final round where she was unfortunately pipped into 4th place by 30cm. The competition was won by Lily Murray of Kent with a throw of 54m.


This was a great opener for Gibsons competitive calendar, and she now switches focus  for upcoming competitions for the County Championships, Midland Counties and the U17 England Athletics National Championships, where she secured a bronze medal in 2019.


Katie Gibson Fantastic finish in 4th just out of the medals

Also finishing in a fantastic 4th place was Alice Bennett competing in the Inter-Girls 800m as a bottom year athlete. The format of two mixed time trial races was identical to the senior Girls the day before, and Bennett was seeded in the first heat ranked 6th going into the competition.


Bennett also prefers to race rather than time trial, but she stuck to her pre-race plan to stick to the leading athlete and kick with 150m to go. She raced this to perfection, splitting in 63 seconds and glued to the leading athlete Shropshire’s Iris Downes all the way to the final bend, Bennett kicked and just ran out of legs in the final 50m finishing second in her heat in 2:11.21. She endured the agony of watching the second trial race, where a close race produced two faster times than Bennett, relegating her to 4th place. In a real race environment Bennet could well have battled for the medal position, but she was happy that she made the final 8 positions an improvement in her first experience in 2019 where she narrowly missed making the final. As a bottom year athlete she will have another opportunity next year, hopefully in the normal format of heats/ finals.


Alice Bennett fantastic race to finish just out the medals in 4th position

There were two 6th place finishes as well for the Harriers with upcoming Inter-Boys sprinter Ryan Amesimeku experiencing top flight competition for the first time. This was Ryan first time competing at English Schools. In his heat, he lined up with Hagen Mzee and Dante Legister, ranked 2nd & 3rd in the UK, running a strong race to finish 4th in a time of 11.29 seconds to qualify for the final.  

Returning just a few hours later in the final, he ran another strong race to finish in a brilliant 6th place in a personal best time of 11.15 seconds.  The race was won by Rusciano Thomas-Riley, with Hagen Mzee in 2nd place.  Both athletes were given the same time of 10.95 seconds, which was a PB for Thomas-Riley.  In 3rd was Corby athlete, Fabian Powell, who also ran a PB of 10.97 seconds.

Ryan’s coach, Ann Inniss-Haycox, delighted with the way Ryan handled his first major championship “I’m so pleased with what Ryan achieved at the English Schools, he didn’t allow the experience to phase him and rose to the challenge.  To make the final at your first attempt is highly creditable." She added "He has been having such a good season & will now start to prepare for the Midland Championships and England Championships that are being held next month”.


Ryan Amesimeku terrific race in the final to set a new PB and a top 6 finish

The other 6th place finish was from Junior Boy Jacob Asher-Relf who experience a whirlwind few weeks prior to being selected for English Schools, Asher-Relf only returned to training in late May following a 2 year break from athletics for growth related issues, and due to the effects of the covid pandemic, and within just 5 weeks of a single training session he competed in two 800m in the space of 4 days to record a National Standard time, and a UK ranking of 5th. Asher-=Relf also has to endure the two trail time format for his 800m race, competing in the second heat he produced a superb race, sitting on the leading pack after an opening lap of 60 sec, he maintained his leading position all the way to the final straight where he started to tire and fell back from the eventual winner Shropshire’s Jack Kinrade to record a time of 2:03.76, credibly close to his PB, for a fine 6th place finish. There is no doubt there will be more to come from Jacob as he settles back into training.    


Jacob Asher-Relf fantastic debut at English schoold for 6th place

The only other Harriers competing was Junior Girl Lara Turner & Inter Girl Alice Bates who were both experiencing English Schools for the first time. Turner was competing in the 1500m in a normal format race with 16 of the top English ranked athletes. The race was taken out and won by sister of KTH’s Indienne King, Shaikira King, in 4:30.80 and Turner ran a smart race sitting well back off the pace slowly building into the race. She was in 9th position until the final 50m when she was tiring and passed by two athletes to finish in 11th place in 4:49.81 credibly close to her PB. Turner will also take a great deal away from the experience of her first English Schools Championships.


Lara Turner ran a well paced race to finish in 11th place in her English Schools debut

Alice Bates competing in the Inter Girls 3000m also in a normal format race with the top 16 ranked athletes from England. Bates performed well settling in over the first km with the leading pack but was unable to sit with the pace being taken out by the pre-race favorite Jess Bailey. Bates settled into the mid pack and rallied over the final lap to finish is a highly credible 10th place in 10:08.79, a National Standard time. The race was won by Bailey in 9:32.70. This was a fantastic learning experience for Bates who sadly missed selection for the Championships in 2019 despite having the qualification time, she will take lots away from her first English Schools experience.


Alice Bates (57) fine performance to finish in 10th place in the Inter Girls 3000m



It was a brilliant display from the Harriers, English Schools winners are a rare commodity, as are top 4 & 6 finishes, which underlines the strength in depth form the Harriers. Well done to everybody who competed with distinction, proudly representing the club & Northants Schools.