TWENTY-THREE of Stratford Athletic Club’s junior athletes made up over 60 per cent of the Warwickshire team that competed at the Inter-Regional Sportshall Athletic finals (West Midlands), writes Paul Bearman.
Held in Coventry, the event saw Warwickshire compete against teams from Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Birmingham, Staffordshire and Shropshire and the Stratford contingent came away with an amazing haul of 30 medals between them.
The powerful Birmingham squad were dominant in all age groups, but were stopped in their all-conquering tracks by some brilliant individual performance from the Stratford athletes.
The Warwickshire U13 girls’ squad included Stratford’s Imogen Sheppard, Jodie Watson, Barunka Lowe, Anna Gionis, Charlotte Nash and Lydia Wright.
Among some terrific performances, Imogen Sheppard’s brilliantly-timed run in the 6-lap race saw her wear the opposition down to win in 1:28.2. She also won gold with Barunka Lowe in the 8-lap paarlauf and silver in the shot put. Barunka added a bronze medal to her collection in the standing triple jump.
Jodie Watson battled through the heats and went on to win bronze in the 2-lap final and Charlotte Nash won bronze in the standing long jump (2.08m) and gold in the 4×1-lap relay with Lydia Wright. Lydia also earned a gold medal in the standing triple jump.
The U13 boys’ team included Adam Pomeroy, Cole Williams, Alex Evans, Zephen Boxall, Dion Love, Mitch Gill, Michael Boyd and Rowan Love.
After running hard to win his 4-lap heat, Mitch Gill was still feeling the effects when he lined up for the final. However, after another storming run, he finished with a hard fought silver.
Mitch’s day was not over and, although exhausted from his previous exertions, he lined up with Owen Hollis of North Warks to win gold in a thrilling race.
Sibling rivalry is always a spur in these events and Dion Love just nudged his brother Rowan into the silver medal position, winning gold in the speed bounce by a single jump.
Rowan went one better when he teamed up with Michael Boyd, Cole Williams and Leamington’s George Brown and was victorious in the 4×1-lap relay. Boyd also won bronze in the vertical jump.
Adam Pomeroy’s hard work this winter has seen him improve hugely as an athlete. He thoroughly deserved his bronze medal in the 4-lap race with a very good run behind the super speedsters from Birmingham.
Zephan Boxall really fought hard in all his events and his reward was a silver medal in the standing triple jump (7.10m).
The U15 age group is contested as a multi-event competition, with each athlete competing in three events. A maximum of 150 points can be earned and once again the Stratford athletes’ ability to compete in all disciplines paid dividends.
Following his bronze medal in the high jump at the UK Indoor Championships the previous week, Oliver Cresswell put in another great performance here.
The very impressive Birmingham athletes certainly did not have things all their own way. ‘Mr Consistent’ Cresswell went on to win silver in the overall competition, winning silver in the speed bounce and bronze in the 2-lap race and standing long jump.
The U15 boys’ team contained Jack Sumners (14th), James Gionis (9th), Dan Boyd (8th), and Izuma Mishima (non-scorer). Gionis jumped a huge 2.63m to win the standing long jump, Boyd won gold in the 2-lap race whilst Mishima won the speed bounce with 85 jumps.
Not to be outdone, the U15 girls had their own superstar performer as Emily Madden Forman won the overall girls’ competition. Emily now goes forward to the national finals at Manchester in April.
Emily literally ran herself to a standstill in winning silver in the 4-lap race. She leapt a superb 2.35m to win gold in the standing long jump and won bronze in the shot put.
Tamzin Chape finished 9th overall, Dani Horton 11th and Charlotte Rigby 12th. Dani won bronze in the 2-lap race and Charlotte the silver in the speed bounce.
The team was managed by the Stratford AC Age Group Leaders Sandie Evans, Michael Lane and Carolyne Johnston, who praised the Stratford contingent of the Warwickshire teams.
Carolyne said: “Stratford athletes have had a superb season in the Warwickshire league this winter, but this was a real test of how well our youngsters stepped up to this level and all of them did exceptionally well.
“It was very competitive as always with Birmingham in particular, but the thing that was most impressive was the sheer talent and determination of the athletes.”
In total Stratford won 16 gold medals, six silver and eight bronze.
RACEWAYS Events’ Spring Shakespeare runs at Long Marston on Saturday saw the following times recorded by Stratford AC members:
10km – Alan Coley-Smith (18th, 41.02); Paul Jefferies (29th, 42.48); Brian Gravelsons (67th, 48.01); Dave Maundrell (79th, 50.03); Debbie Edkins (145th, 56.44); John Butler (221st, 1:04.34); Jean Hill (254th, 1:08.56).
Half-Marathon – Graham Taylor (10th, 1:22.51); Pete Evans (23rd, 1:29.31); David Jones (60th, 1:41.28).
The Stratford AC members of the Warwickshire team. (s)
Adam Pomeroy. (s)
Barunka Lowe. (s)
Jodie Watson. (s)