Adele Nicoll, Ciaran Wright and Bobby Clay among the winners on first day of athletics action at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium
This year’s Sainsbury’s School Games marks the final major event to take place at Sheffield’s Don Valley Stadium and the crop of 2013 are doing their best to give the venue the send off it deserves with records tumbling on the first day of the athletics competition.
Don Valley is no stranger to hosting the Sainsbury’s School Games, doing so in 2011 where Hannah Cockroft won 200m silver and 100m gold just a year before she claimed double Paralympic gold at London 2012.
And Cockroft was on hand to watch the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls strut their stuff at the home of Great Britain’s golden-girl Jessica Ennis-Hill with the team from the Midlands topping the leaderboard at the halfway stage.
However it was Wales’ Adele Nicoll who was the first to write her name into the record books in Sheffield as she won the girls’ shot put with a best effort of 14.33m.
The 17-year-old, who finished 11th at the World Youth Championships in July, not only topped the podium in the Steel City but also walked away with a new personal best and Welsh Under-17 record.
“I definitely knew there was a 14m put in there but not a 14.33m put so I surprised myself a little bit by just how well I threw,” said the Birchfield Harrier.
“But I have been chasing that record all season and it has come in my last event of the season so I am really happy.
“It has been a good season for me because I won all the major domestic championships and to get this record is just a great way to finish.”
The records weren’t finished tumbling there however as there were also two new Sainsbury’s School Games records set, the event supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust.
The first of those was thanks to Scotland’s Ciaran Wright in the men’s hammer, as he took gold with a best effort of 66.93m with his sixth and final throw.
Midland’s are currently topping the table and that is partly down to the efforts of Alicia Barrett, whose time of 11.18 seconds in winning the girls’ 80m hurdles was also good enough for a new competition record.
“I am over the moon to not only win but also set a new School Games record,” said Barrett, who also won gold at the SIAB Schools’ International in July.
“I knew I was in good form coming into the competition so I just came into it looking to run a really good time and that is what I did.”
However the Midlands’ success wasn’t all down to Barrett as they had plenty more medallists to celebrate, Caleb Downes winning the blue riband 100m event with a time of 10.87 seconds before returning to the track to help his team finish runner-up in the 4x100m relay.
Christian Von Eitzen also had the Midlands celebrating as he won 800m gold, while Rory Dwyer repeating the trick in the high jump.
Meanwhile, Invicta East Kent’s Bobby Clay rounded off a fine 2013 that saw her finish fourth at the World Youth Championships, as she took home the girls’ 1500m title in 4:28.38 minutes.
There were also a couple of world champions on display and they didn’t disappoint as Scott Jones and Sophie Hahn, who claimed gold at July’s IPC World Athletics Championships in Lyon, topped the pile in the boys’ seated shot put and girls’ ambulant 200m respectively.
“The Sainsbury’s School Games is a great competition and I am delighted to have won gold,” said Hahn, who also set a new T38 100m world record in winning her world title in July.
“My race was good, I tired up a little bit near the end but as long as I have got someone in front of me I can give them a good chase and that is when I get better.”
» The Sainsbury’s 2013 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, takes place in Sheffield from 12-15 September 2013. Visit www.2013schoolgames.com for more information and see the September 19 issue of AW for reports, pictures and results.