IT WASN'T just the cross-country specialists who did the North East proud at the weekend with two individual gold medals, one silver and one bronze to show for their efforts but the indoor enthusiasts did even better picking up two gold medals, one silver and two bronze at the England Athletics Under-15/17/20 Indoor Championships at the EIS Arena, Sheffield.
And, but for an unfortunate disqualification, the medal haul in South Yorkshire could well have been even better.
Houghton's Henry Johnson by-passed the cross-country at Harwood House in favour of tackling the under-17 1500 metres on the boards and it proved a winning move as he stormed home to claim the gold medal in a UK top-ranking time of 3min 58.57sec. Middlesbrough Mandale's Daniel Payne also lined up and finished just outside the medals in fourth place in a time of 4:17.77.
Gateshead;s Jazmine Moss also tops the UK rankings after a winning pb performance in the under-20 women's 200 metres. After winning her heat in 24.95s and semi-final (24.52) Jazmine rose to the occasion in the final with a superb victory in 24.06s.
Fellow Gateshead athlete Jack Halpin went into the under-17 shot put competition topping the UK rankings but he was surprisingly upstaged on this occasion and pushed into second place by Chris Dyrmishi with the Rugby and Northampton athlete winning the contest by a matter of just four centimetres! Jack, who has a pb of 15:66 metres this season, produced a best-on-the-day 14:55m with Chris topping the podium with 14:59m. North Shields Poly's James Wordsworth was also slightly down on his best in finishing in fourth place with 13:86m.
The region was well represented in the final of the under-17 women's 60 metres with Gateshead duo Joy Eze and Megan Costello and Middlesbrough's Afoma Ofor going through from a series of heats and semi-finals. However, it was only Megan who managed to bring home a medal after producing a lifetime best of 7:78s to claim an excellent third place. While it was celebrations all round for Megan it was a bitter disappointment for her team-mate who came out of the blocks a fraction early and was immediately disqualified. Afoma, meanwhile, finished in seventh place in 7.95s after recording a pb of 7.87s in the semi-final. Such is the strength of the age group North Shields Poly had two girls making it through to the semi-finals. Jessica Lively recorded 8:10s in the heats and 8:12s in the semis while team-mate Lucy Errington clocked a pb of 8:10s in the heats before missing out on a place in final with a 8:17s recording in the semi-final. On the second day of the championships, Megan lined up in the 200m and just missed out on a place in the final after recording a season's best of 25.97s in the semi-final.
The final medalist to make it onto the podium was the newly-crowned North East under-17 pole vault champion Molly Elliott. Seven days before heading for Sheffield Molly thrilled the spectators at the county championships at Gateshead where she set a new record of 3:60m. However, she went even higher by adding another five centimetres to that height to take a magnificent bronze medal.
There were numerous other excellent performances from those who made the trip which reflects the hard work the athletes put in together with their coaches.
In the under-17 women's 60 metres hurdles four NE athletes were amongst the strong entry which required five heats. All of the quartet made it through to the semi-finals with Gateshead's Phillippa Ellis the fastest (8.91s) which just missed a place in the final line-up. Darlington's Charlotte Rutter recorded 9.09s after running marginally quicker in the heats (9.07s). Tynedale's Kate Smith ran 9.24s in the semi-final after recording 9.04s in the heats and it was similar story for Morpeth's Amy Lott who ran 9.22s in the heats and 9.25s in the semi final.
Gateshead;s Darcy Garbutt contested both the under-15 girls 60m and 200m and though she didn't make the final of either she recorded indoor pbs of 7.94s and 26.66s respectively. Jarrow and Hebburn's Nicola Caygill made it through to the semi-final of the under-20 60m where she ran 7.91s after running slightly quicker in the heats (7.89s) while sister Rachel missed out on a place in semi-final despite recording a pb of 8.14s in the heats.
In the middle distance events, Durham City's Cameron Thomas finished ninth in the final of the under-20 men's 1500m posting a new pb of 4:09.82 while Middlesbrough duo Sam Tyers (1:56.26) and Josh Allen (2:09.16) failed in their bid for a place on the podium.
Other field event placings of note included a fourth-place finish for Morpeth's Andrew Knight in the under-20 shot put (15:89m); Gateshead's new England junior international Amelia Bateman cleared 1:70m for fifth place in the under-20 women's high jump while team-mate Lucy Giles finished sixth in the under-17 women's shot put (12:05m)
Bill McGuirk is the North East's top athletics correspondent. NECAA Chairman and official, Bill can be found at all local athletics events supporting the sport he loves.