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UK School Games - Athletics Day 1

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With superb weather and an electric atmosphere the first day of athletics competition at the UK School Games couldn’t have got off to a better start.


The day was filled with an abundance of raw talent, new PB’s, competition and ice cream!


A highlight of the day was a surprise win for 16 year old Katherin Connolly (West Midlands) with 1.71 in the high jump. Her battle with Christina Pearsons (South East) and Hannah Dickson (North West), who finished second and third respectively, was ‘edge of your seat action’. “Its fantastic, I can’t believe it, I really wasn’t expecting to win. I wanted to come and get a PB but I’ve done both so it’s better than I thought.” Obviously boosted by her result Katherin beamed and continued: “I’m going to have a hard winter training, hopefully i'll be ready and strong so I can jump even higher than I am now.”


Katherin pays testimony to Dame Kelly Holmes’ thoughts on the positive effects an event like the UK School Games can have on a young athlete: “We're hoping to leave a legacy post 2012, so it’s about inspiring all the young generation now and so there’s going to be kids here that have obviously got their ambitions to be at 2012.”


The disability events were hugely supported by the crowd, noticeably James Ball's (Wales) victory in the boys 100m ambulant as he smashed his P.B by more than two seconds. James is a familiar face to disability athletics as he has competed for six years and has been to both UK School Games.


The games lived up to its aims and replicated a major multi event competition. Dame Kelly Holmes believes: “The experience you get from these events is really useful in later years. This is the biggest opportunity these kids are going to get to actually experience everything that you’re going to have to go through.” Jenny McLoughlin (Wales), who won gold in the 100m ambulant girl’s event for the second year running with 15.52secs, enjoys everything the games have to offer: “It’s a great atmosphere, i'll defiantly be coming back next year to try and make it three in a row.”


In-field, Joe Bloomfield (East Midlands) won gold in the hammer with 62.99m, showing professionalism and potential throughout the rounds. His winning distance was just under his PB of 63.22. The 16-year-old said: “It’s my best performance at a major championship so I’m really pleased. My goal for next year is to qualify for the Youth Commonwealths that are being held in India.”


Another shining star was Laura Samuel (East Midlands), who won gold in the long jump with 5.80m and also competed in the 4 x 100 relay. When asked about her recent exam results and how she managed to juggle training and school work she exclaimed: “I've just got back from holiday actually! I haven’t even got my GCSE results!” Laura is one of the many young athletes who will be too old to compete next year, she said: “I want to come back next year but i'll be too old. Next year I’m going to Loughborough College so I can train at the Loughborough track, I’m looking forward to that.”


Ashlee Nelson (West Midlands), who has been tipped for great things, competed in the 100m heats and won the 4 x 100m relay time trial with her West Midlands team mates. She thinks next year, organisers should endeavour to provide a regular relay competition. “It’s just not the same. The competitiveness is not as high. At the European Juniors the competitiveness was absolutely amazing, if they could bring that competitiveness to this event then that’s something to consider for next year.”


Luke Peters (East Midlands) soared to a winning 58.48m in the Javelin in the same week he received his GCSE results. He said: “I’ve finished my exams now and I got what I wanted, I train three times a week so I do find it hard to fit everything in.” The 16-year-old is staying on at sixth from and looking forward to English schools next season and three A’s, proving that Britain’s young athletes can have it all!


For full results from Day 1 of the athletics at the UK School Games visit www.ukschoolgames.com.