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The Next Generation shine at Aviva Sportshall UK Final

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Sportshall

24 April 2012

Birmingham’s NEC was host to a fantastic Aviva Sportshall Athletics UK Final on Saturday 21st April, where nearly 500 athletes took part on the day, with 23 Counties represented.

The event, which sees the leading young athletes from across the UK representing their Counties in an exciting team based competition, provided a wonderful finale to a pathway which for most athletes started in October.

Now in its 29th year and an established fixture in the calendar of any aspiring young Athlete, the final was formally opened by current GB High Jumper Robbie Grabarz. Whilst Robbie will have to wait until June to confirm his Olympic place, the future stars were suitably inspired and the event witnessed some tremendous performances with two new UK records being set.

 “I competed at Sportshall as an 11-year-old onwards and it is memorable as the first time you are with a very large group of like-minded children,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “It’s great to be involved now and to be an inspiration for the next generation.”

The LG Arena crowd and Robbie watched on as Hollie Williamson from Shropshire broke the Under 13 Girls High Jump record with a clearance of 1.62m. At the same time over in the Under 15 Girls Shot competition, Adele Nicoll from Powys, Wales smashed Welsh international athlete Philippa Roles record of 14.12m, set 19 years ago by recording 15.08m.

Two athletes managed to successfully defend their gold medals for a second year running with Sophie Thomas registering 95 in the iconic Sportshall event of Speed Bounce and Rebekah Tiler equalling her Vertical Jump record of 75cm, set two months earlier at the Aviva Sportshall Regional qualifier.

The U15 All Rounder competitions, which amalgamates an athletes’ points to find the best individual, were won by Phoebe White from Birmingham and Benedict Millson from North Yorkshire. Phoebe and Benedict join an illustrious group of recipients which includes Mark Lewis Francis, Kelly Sotherton and Jade Surman.

Sotherton won the final of Sportshall UK in 1992 and has never forgotten it. “It’s a massive platform for young athletes,” she told the Daily Telegraph. 

“Many have come through this and gone on to bigger and better things. We can use the 2012 Olympic Games to inspire youngsters, schools and clubs. Many won’t make it into 2012, but they can make it to the Games in 2016, and that must be part of the legacy we create.”

Whilst the quality of individual performances seemed as high as ever, the ultimate prize, and the key behind the success and excitement of Sportshall Athletics are the Team Competitions. The winning counties came from across the Regions, with Hampshire taking the U13 Girls trophy, and Avon U13 Boys bringing home their trophy for the third successive season. In the U15 Age group, the Girls from Surrey came out on top and the North Yorkshire Boys edged out Surrey taking the title by just nine points.

After a thrilling set of final relays, presentations were made by the programmes creator George Bunner MBE and the crowd of parents, athletes, coaches, young and experienced officials went home to plan their next campaign.

Aviva Sportshall provides a highly enjoyable way for young people to try running, jumping and throwing activities as they take their first step into athletics. For full results or more information on the programmes please visit www.sportshall.org or follow on twitter @AvivaSportshall for regular updates.