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UK School Games - Athletics Day 2

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The second day of competition at the UK School Games athletics was adrenalin pumping action from start to finish. The sun was shone again as did many young British athletes.

Aled Daves (Wales), threw a world junior record in the men’s ambulant shot. The Welshman, whose 11.27m effort was easily enough to take gold said: “I’ve been trying all year for the world record so I’m delighted to finally get it. It’s been a great week here: great team, great support staff and a great event.”

Niall Flannery (North East) won the men’s 400m hurdles with 52.27secs which is a new PB. The enthusiastic Gateshead Harrier, who goes to the Royal Grammar School Newcastle, said: "I took a big chunk off my PB so I was really happy. All the way round there was always someone there helping me to push on.” With a huge smile on his face he continued, “I took the lead and emotion started to kick in, I crossed the line and emotion just came straight out. This is my last race of the season so I’m just happy I’ve been able to run a PB at the end of the season and get a gold medal.”

The regional team comradeship has been apparent throughout the competition and commented upon by everyone involved. Tom Bryant (London) who won the steeplechase says: "Its great to hang around with people your age, its nice getting support and cheering from team mates." He also commented on the competition: “It’s very good, it’s great coming here because there’s lots of other people who are like minded. It’s better than the English Schools i'd say!”

At the event all athletes have the valued guidance of a mentor, this year the lucky bunch had the support of Commonwealth Champion and Olympic sprinter Jared Deacon. Each sport has a mentor organised by Youth Sports Trust, each one of the mentors has been to an Olympic games and so have the experience of being an athlete at a major championships. He was genuinely impressed by the UK School Games: "Its just the same, (as a professional competition) and hopefully the kids have got a taste of that and they've seen what their attitudes need to be to cope with that, because it can be quite intense when you're around people that are competing all the time.” 

Ciara Mageean (Northern Ireland) competed in the 3000m, which in the heat was exhausting. She ran a superbly timed race: "The first two laps were quite slow so I was ok but I was roasting! The tracks kind of hard as well, so it was tough.” The 3000m is a very long race and Ciara said she didn’t expect to be getting a PB today considering the weather. All of the Northern Ireland team were behind Ciara throughout her race: "My family are at home so I have to ring them to let them know how I get on but all the team were cheering every time I went past. It really helps.”

As well as the athletics competition, everyone at the University of Warwick athletics track was treated to the London 2012 Roadshow which gave people a chance to join in and try a new sport. Among the activities were football, rope skipping, rowing and canoeing. 

Mandy Ross who works for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, had a stand with the Roadshow to inform people about the centre’s work with children. She said: "We're a partner of VISA who is a sponsor of the UK School Games so we’re delighted to be here today. Sport is about the wellbeing of children and that’s what CEOP's about, protecting young people.”

Jade Attoh (London), daughter of GB coach Frank Attoh, is keeping jumps success in the family as she took the triple jump title with 11.69m which is a new PB. She gushed: "I'm ecstatic, I didn’t realise it done it. It was the atmosphere, the warm up. Coming into the stadium there’s so many people I thought, right I have to do this and focus!”

Jade’s father coaches top jump names such as Greg Rutherford and Jamaica’s Trecia Smith and she says she likes having her dad as a coach: "He treats me as a normal person and pushes me hard like a normal coach would.”

William Ife (London) took gold in the 100m in a full powered, adrenaline filled final. He was pleased with his performance: "It was good, nice and strong but it was into a headwind which is why I probably didn’t get a PB. William was full of team spirit as it’s his first time at the UK School Games: “I haven’t been here before, so everything is new to me. The team atmosphere is great, I've had a great time and it’s a brilliant experience.”

Other winners in the athletics included Yorkshire & Humberside’s Abdirisak Ahmed, who was hugely impressive in the men’s 3000m and the West Midland’s Ashlee Nelson who defended her 100m crown in 11.66, despite pulling up on the finish line with a leg strain.

Jared Deacon, ex Olympic sprinter and mentor for the athletics, believes there was pure talent at the games this weekend: “They've (the young athletes) got to be training at a reasonable level, got to have a good level of talent to produce the goods when it matters when the chips are down. I mean that’s what a true champion is, isn’t it, someone who does it when it matters.”

For full results from Day 2 athletics competition visit www.ukschoolgames.com