SHEFFIELD’S English Institute of Sport played host to the 2018 England Athletics Under 15, 17 and 20 Indoor Championships which yielded silver medals for Stratford Athletic Club duo Adam Farrow and Lewis Byng.
The Steel City welcomed the cream of the UK’s young athletics talent and meeting the stringent qualifying standards for these championships is testament to the talent among the Stratford AC juniors.
This year nine Stratford youngsters made the trip, some making their debuts in this level of competition and most moving up into the next age group.
On day one newly-crowned U15 Midlands high jump champion Farrow made his debut in the event and his clean, consistent jumping saw him finishing on 1.70m which earned him a superb silver medal.
Evie Lowe was also making her debut at national level and, after some early nerves, she moved through the rounds, building her confidence to finish on a just below-par 1.45m but in a highly commendable sixth place.
Beth Cate found the going tough in her first major event as an U17 in the 60m (8.45secs), finishing eighth in her heat and sixth in the 200m (27.81secs).
Day two kicked off with Byng stepping into the shot put circuit and, with his typical positive approach, he moved through the rounds with consistent mid-15m throwing and his 15.65m had him in the lead until a dramatic last throw of the competition from his main rival, Andrew Knight of Morpeth Harriers.
Knight’s throw of just 9cm more was enough to snatch gold. With the silver medal around his neck, a slightly disappointed Byng said afterwards: “This has made me even more determined to do even better in the outdoor championships.”
Millie Leighton was another making her debut at the national championships in the U15 hurdles and, despite running a personal best of 9.62secs in the heats to finish third, she was disappointed until she heard she had qualified for the semi-final.
The girls are incredibly quick at this level and Leighton ran another positive race to finish fifth but outside the qualifiers for the final.
Jasmine Williams had her work cut out in the heats of the U17 hurdles and, after moving up to this age group, the older girls in particular dominate the races. Despite a determined run of 9.48secs, Williams missed out on the semi-finals by one tenth of a second.
The biggest smile of the day came when Emily Madden Forman finally beat her previous personal best in the U20 high jump by leaping 1.69m, before narrowly missing the next height of 1.74m.
She really rattled the bar at 1.69m but it stayed on for her to finish on the same height as four other girls. Countback meant she was pushed back to seventh place, but it did not stop her smiling.
Jack Sumners warmed up for his main hurdles event by taking part in what was a relatively lacklustre competition. Despite that Sumners made three good long jumps in to finish tenth with a best jump of 6.59m.
The hurdles is arguably the toughest track events to master, requiring needing speed, precision, guts and a high level of technical ability to be able to perform at the top level.
As two of the top ranked U20 hurdlers in the country, Sumners and Ollie Cresswell lined up against the who’s who of U20 hurdlers and both qualified from same heat to reach the final.
It is very rare to see two athletes from the same club in a national final but, with all but one of the top U20 hurdlers in the UK lining up side by side, the final was unbelievably quick and in a tidal wave of athletes swamping the finish line Sumners finished fifth, just ahead of Cresswell in sixth.