It was a pleasingly large party of Guernsey athletes that travelled to Bedford for the National England Age-group Championships and it yielded a pleasing haul of medals.
Simply achieving the standard to compete at the championships has long been a key barometer of elite Guernsey athletes, and it was encouraging that no-less than eleven Sarnians competed over the weekend.
Alastair Chalmers was, naturally, a firm favourite for the U17 400m hurdles following his selection for the European Youth Championships earlier in the season. He delivered as expected and was only marginally outside the 53sec barrier. Following the race, he admitted wasn’t too worried about the clock and that it was all about coming away with a victory.
Shortly before his victory, training partner Sophie Porter had taken to the track for the U17 300m hurdles final. Having posted a PB in the heat, she knew that a medal could be up for grabs. Not only did she manage that, but she also reduced her PB down significantly to 43.41sec – over 2sec faster than she recorded at the South of England Championships two weeks earlier. It also means she breaks Kylie Robilliard’s U17 Island record and is ranked inside the top 60 on the UK all-time list. She was actually only just edged out of the silver medal position but the youngster didn’t seem to mind – her and her coach Dale Garland both were amazed by the time she had achieved.
Two more bronze medals followed. The more surprising of them was Joe Chadwick in the U15 high jump. He put 6cm on his PB to clear 1.80m on his final attempt – showing great competitiveness in a pressure situation. Not only did it claim him an amazing national bronze medal – but it also meant he has now attained the development standard for next year’s Island Games in Gotland. Also getting back on the podium in the final event of the weekend was Ala Chalmers, who came back in his “second event” the 100m hurdles. He executed a well timed dip that Colin Jackson would have been proud of, which helped him clinch the bronze medal place. In doing so he again reduced his own U17 Island record to 13.09sec.
Elsewhere there was a mixed weekend for Guernsey’s athletes. Given the level of competition this is to be expected and what is important is for the athletes to come away with lessons learnt and ready to improve next season.
Among the other results, there were positives for 300m specialists Amelia Lees – who came 5th in the final of the 300m with 42.54sec – and Indi Gallagher – who posted a fast wind-assisted 200m time of 26.14sec. The latter was especially credible given that she had contracted a nasty 24 hour bug in the early hours on Saturday morning and had been forced to miss her favoured 300m as a result.
Alice Hunt was a solid 8th in the U15 triple jump, just failing to clear 10m following on from her impressive form in the mid-season. Rhiannon Dowinton also had a solid weekend – clocking 11.83sec to qualify through to the semi-final of the U15 75m hurdles. She was just unable to match that in the semi-final but still dipped inside 12sec to complete a consistent season.