THE region’s youngest competitors – under-13 and under-15 – were in superb form at the Northern Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
No less than 10 medals – six gold, four silver and one bronze – were plundered together with a host of athletes setting new pbs, making it a great day, not just for the athletes but for the many parents and coaches who travelled to the Yorkshire venue.
Pride of place has to be the under-13 girls 60m final where Blyth Running Club supporters celebrated wildly when they saw their athletes’ race to a superb one-two finish. Victory went to Millie Wilkinson in 8.33s – she had posted a pb even quicker of 8.31s in the heats – with team-mate Maya Ellen Turner claiming the silver medal in 8.38s after running a new pb of 8.35s in the heats. Just to show the all-round strength of sprinting in this age group, North Shields Poly’s Millie Baker just failed to take her place in the final after clocking a pb of 9.02s in the early rounds. Later in the day Millie had another reason to be excited when producing a season’s best of 4:93m in the shot put.
Still with the under-13 girls, it was another top-of-the-podium finish for a Blyth athlete in the 200m. Once again the East Northumberland club had two athletes in the final and it was Hannah Wilson who claimed the gold medal after posting a new life-time best of 27.05s. Team-mate Sadie Parker finished in fifth place in 29.28s, in what was her slowest time of the three rounds having posted 28.83s in the heats and 28.91s in the semi-final. Abigail Huntly recorded a PB in her heat, and also contested the high jump where the Blyth athlete finished in fifth place with a season’s best clearance of 1:30m. In the shot put competition Alnwick’s Leila Thompson missed out on the gold medal by a matter of just four centimetres after posting a new pb of 9:35m, victory going to Wirral AC’s Zara Ogedengbe.
The North East had only one medallist in the under-15 girls section with Gateshead’s Lexi Ellis finishing runner-up in the shot put contest with a put of 9:93m after having posted a season’s best of 10:03m in the qualifying rounds.
Despite picking up the solitary medal there were numerous pbs on show. In the 60m, Tynedale’s Katherine Bell finished sixth in the final in a time of 8.40s after recording a pb of 8.29s in the earlier rounds and there were pbs for Gateshead’s Fawzie Obeyele (8.74s) and Durham City’s Lucy Aston (8.80s). Katherine also lined up in the long jump where she put a mark in the sand at a season’s best 4:27m.
In the 200m Darlington’s Kate Williams just missed out for a run in the final after posting a season’s best of 27.26s. There were new pbs for Gateshead trio Fawzie Obeyele (30.37s), Madeleine Liddell (27.63s) and Charlie Watson (30.09s).
In the 800m Chester-le-Street’s Ella Jones ran a pb of 2:37.0 while there was a season’s best for Katie Joslyn (North Shields Poly) of 2:33.33. Hannah Buckton (Gateshead) made it through to the final of the 60m hurdles where she finished in sixth place in a new pb of 9.85s.
In the under-15 boys section, there were two top podium places for Gateshead athletes with Joel Brown-King claiming the 60m sprint gold medal and Thomas Mann doing likewise in the shot competition. Joel posted a new pb of 7.44s while Thomas’s winning put of 10:80m was a season’s best. Birtley’s Fynn Errington also contested the shot finishing in sixth place with a. season’s best of 8:25m.
In the 800m, Gosforth’s Ethan Bond finished fourth in the final in 2:10.83 while Blyth’s Connor Taggart posted a pb of 2:21.34 in the heats. Connor set a second pb in the long jump with a leap of 4:39m. Also, in the long jump Connor’s team-mates Joshua Crisp and Chris Bradley-Njai both had season’s bests of 4:84m and 2:43m respectively.
In the under-13 boys section only two competitors took their place in the shot put contest and they were both from the North East! The gold medal was won by Birtley’s Joe Perkins with a new pb put of 8:86m while Blyth’s Luke Pilcher posted a season’s best of 7:47m to claim the silver medal. It was a busy day for the Blyth athlete who also set a new pb of 28.94s for fourth place in the 200m after finishing seventh in the long jump with a leap of 4:21m.
The region’s final medal came in the 60 metres when Gateshead’s Matthew Inman claimed a superb third place in a time of 8.41s.
*The majority of the young athletes who competed in Sheffield will be in action at the North East Counties Championships at Gateshead on Saturday/Sunday, February 15/16 with spectators welcome.
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.