11th / 12th July 2003
Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield
The 73rd English Schools Athletic Championships were held at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffied for the fourth time in the past eight years. This year’s Dorset team was an equal mix of boys and girls (twelve of each) and one in which the field events were less dominant than last year with fourteen field eventers and ten track event athletes wearing the Dorset green. One of the most striking features of the team was the high number of its members who were at the bottom end of their age group: ten out of the twenty four representing their county were in the bottom half of their age group, which means that, fitness and selection permitting, they will be competing in the same age group again at Gateshead in 2004.
The warm up area was the brand new English Institute of Sport indoor track adjacent to the stadium. It was incredible to see the behaviour of some athletes and their team managers who seemed to regard this pristine provision as a lounging area where litter could be left and high jump and pole vault landing beds could be used to accommodate an entire team at times. It is on such occasions that Dorset team managers are grateful to be in charge of athletes whom they know well and whose behaviour once again was impeccable. The atmosphere among the squad was as positive and enthusiastic as I can recall: athletes supported each other when things were going badly as well as when they were doing well, and we even had the phenomenon of a team jog on each of the two evenings to loosen up after the coach journey or a day spent sitting in the stands.
It is invidious, perhaps, to pick out individual performances, but such is the nature of our sport that this is, perhaps, inevitable. Top Junior Boy was Andrew Mapstone, who displayed calmness, pace judgement and racing nous well beyond his years. In the Inter Boys category, the star was unquestionable Danny Hepplewhite who snatched victory in the Shot with his last effort. The runner-up was not too pleased! This win gained him an international vest the following weekend. In the 3000m, Sean Hogan recorded a huge personal best before going off to try and make his name with AFC Bournemouth. We wish him the best of luck in this exciting venture. A seventh place for the young Daniel Brunsden was an indication of the ability of this multi-talented thrower. Boys’ captain, Stephen Small , is another athlete who is “a year young” and one who could reach the top next season.
The Intermediate Girls were our most successful category, winning the “C” counties trophy. Nikki Hamblin was majestic in the 800m, despite not feeling 100%. She dominated her heat and semi before emphatically stamping her authority on the final. Louise Watton may well have been disappointed in “only” finishing second after winning last year, but when one considers that this was her first competition of any sort for two months and that she had been struggling with injury since January, it was a remarkable effort underlining her talent, her competitiveness and her focus. Judith Kaye’s podium position was a splendid reflection on the work done by her coach, Dave Pearson, to raise the profile of this developing event in the county. With Rachel Cork finishing eighth, this was a very successful age group. Girls’ captain, Cara Roberts, finished a fine fifth in her event and it was a delight to see one of the stalwarts of Dorset athletics, Helen Arbuthnott, whose efforts are not limited to throwing heavy implements around the stadium, but who also contributes to the sport as a team manager and level 2 coach, making the team in her final year.
The support of parents was as welcome as it was well-directed. So often one hears of and witnesses over-ambitious parents who push their offspring too hard. There was no evidence of this over the weekend – only supportive encouragement and a n unobtrusive presence when such was required. How encouraging, too, for the athletes to see their coaches at the event! Many had travelled all the way to Sheffield to lend their support – a testimony to their dedication.
Although this was not our most successful championships, we achieved what we did without two of our strongest runners who would probably have won two medals between them. When we can say that fourteen of the twenty-four strong squad finished in the top ten in the country, we need not be too despondent! No report is complete without reference to the excellent work of the team managers whose patience, stamina, tact, humour and enthusiasm never faltered over the weekend. It was appropriate that Keith Hayman received a special Dorset Schools AA medal on this his tenth successive English Schools Championships as a team manager.
Chairman Dorset Schools Athletic Association.
Jun Boys (4)
Andrew Mapstone Beaminster 400m 6th Final 52.72 (N)
Matthew Clark Uplands 1500m 7th Ht. 4-25.61
Philip Anscombe (*) Sherborne Triple 14th Final 12m01
Matthew Calver (*) Allenbourn Triple 16th Final 11m73
Inter Boys (6)
Nick Phillips (*) Purbeck 800m 6th Ht 2-03.81
Karl Welsh Summerbee 800m 7th Ht. 2-01.46
Sean Hogan Corfe Hills 3000m 7th Final 8-51.82 (N) (PB)
Aaron Davies (*) Clayesmore 1500mS/C 15th Final 4-51.33
Dan Hepplewhite St. Peter’s Shot 1st Final 15m38 (N)
Dan Brunsden (*) Summerbee Javelin 7th Final 52m06 (E)
Senior Boys (2)
Dan McDonald (*) Purbeck High 9th Final 1m90
Stephen Small (*) (Capt) Queen Elizabeth Long 6th Final 6m92 (E)
Junior Girls (4)
Serita Shone Thomas Hardye 100m 5th Ht. 12.71 (E)
Hannah Stammas (*) Bournemouth SG 800m 8th Final 2-24.06
3rd Ht. 2-19.9 (E)
Sarah Warsop Corfe Hills Long 15th Final 4m86
Laura Carr Purbeck Javelin 10th Final 28m13
Inter Girls (5) Winners of the Minor Counties trophy
Nikki Hamblin (*) Wey Valley 800m 1st Final 2-10.28 (N)
Gemma Eastman Parkstone GS High 21st Final 1m49
Judith Kaye Parkstone GS Pole Vault 5th Final 2m95 (E) (=PB)
Rachel Cork St. Mary’s Shot 8th Final 10m39
Louise Watton Lytchett Minster Javelin 2nd Final 41m05 (N)
Senior Girls (3)
Carly Dean (*) Weymouth Coll. 400mH 8th Final 68.11
Cara Roberts (Capt) Gillingham Long 5th Final 5m45 (E)
Helen Arbuthnott B’th & Poole Coll. Hammer 11th Final 34m70
Kerry Hayman (Highcliffe), Fiona Lilley (Ashdown), Liz Scott (Kings High), Keith Hayman (Bournemouth), Peter Fryer (Canford)
(*) = athlete at the bottom end of the two year age group.