STRATFORD Athletic Club sensation Rory Dwyer leapt to the UK under 20 high jump title at the 2016 England Athletics Under 15, 17 and 20 National Championships.
The triumph at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport is the 18-year-old’s fourth national indoor title in succession and is a significant one as the Steel City played host to the cream of the UK’s young athletics talent.
Leading the rankings and as defending champion, Dwyer was favourite, but he left his travelling supporters on edge when he took three attempts at his opening height of 2.03m.
However, normal service was resumed as he went on to clear 2.12m and take gold as well having near misses at 2.17m, which was the junior world qualifying standard.
Later in the day Dwyer, supported by FPS Distribution Ltd, lined up against the best under 20 hurdlers in the country and, after winning his heat, the final lived up to expectations.
After a fast start the main four contenders ran neck and neck all the way through to a blanket finish which saw Dwyer just edged out of the medals as the photo finish managed to sort out what the naked eye could not.
Six months after last competing and having to rely on just her winter training is not the ideal preparation for a major championship and, as Stratford AC’s Emily Madden Forman lined up for the under 17 triple jump, she was understandably anxious.
However, after her opening jump of 11.41m set the standard for her series of six jumps all over 11m, she showed her class was still there.
Her opening jump remained her best and she went home with a brilliant bronze medal.
Team-mates Oliver Cresswell and Jack Sumners were two of the best under 15 high jump athletes in the UK last season, but moving up to under 17s is a big step.
After a solid winter’s training, Cresswell went into the championships with an objective to beat his personal best in the high jump and this he duly did after a mature series of jumps that saw him soar over 1.85m, fractionally missing 1.88m.
He finished on the same height as two other athletes and sixth on countback – a performance that finally put a big smile on his usually pensive face.
Cresswell had more to smile about later in the day as he followed his high jump exploits up with a brilliant run in his heat of the 60m hurdles which destroyed his personal best as he finishing second in 8.22secs.
Sumners also ran a superb PB of 8.37secs as he finished fourth in a very fast heat which contained the eventual gold and bronze medallists.
The final was one of the fastest in history as the winner Tre Thomas came within 0.01 of both the UK record and championship-best performance. Cresswell finished sixth in a blisteringly fast race and said afterwards “wow that was fast”.
The under 17 female 60m is extremely competitive and Dani Horton is another of the Stratford athletes to move up to the under 17s.
Typically, she flew out of the blocks in her heat and was holding her position in the pack until the last ten metres and finished third, just outside her PB.
Reflecting on a weekend of excellence and high drama from the Stratford athletes, coach Paul Bearman said: “Everyone was really on their game over the weekend.
“To be good enough to qualify for the championships is tough enough, but to be able to perform so well on a national stage and produce medals and PBs is testament to how hard the athletes and all the coaches have worked during the winter.”
Report compiled by Paul Bearman.