SIAB SCHOOLS U17 TRACK & FIELD INTERNATIONAL - SWANSEA, WALES 20/07/19:
From the local primary schools to secondary and U17 International competition in the space of three days...
A team of seventy young Welsh Schools athletes did not have to travel as far as they did in 2018 over the weekend for the traditional showpiece event of the Schools Track & Field calendar. Hosted here in Wales this year, all roads led to the Swansea University Sports Village on Saturday 20th July and welcomed athletes, officials, coaches, team managers and spectators from the Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland nations.
Looking to take advantage on home turf in front of a very loud vocal crowd that were in attendance, Selectors had chosen a team of 75 athletes (38 boys and 37 girls) from across Wales. The majority shone at the Welsh Schools National Track & Field Championships in Cardiff earlier this month, where the middle champions were automatically selected a fortnight ago.
The majority of athletes selected were from the Middle age grouping (years 10 & 11 in under 17 category) with a handful of outstanding juniors (under 15s) given the opportunity to gain experience of this level of competition for the first time.
The team made up of 57 South Wales athletes and joined by 18 from Mid Wales and the North met up at Swansea University Singleton Campus on Friday Evening. This was for the pre-event dinner and the team meeting with an overnight stay at the nearby Singleton and Bay Campuses before battle commenced on Saturday morning 20th from 10:30am. The Hammer field discipline for girls got it all started after the traditional photographs were taken in the drizzly early morning conditions.
It turned out to be a very high standard of competition with a large number of champions from their respective country in attendance. Two championship best performances were broken for example and saw records go in the girls' hammer and shot put. Congratulations must go to North Walian Osian Perrin who broke the Welsh under 17 3,000m record on Saturday after a fantastic final lap sprint with the English athlete. His time of 8.23.64 broke a record that stood for more than 40 years.
In 2019, Welsh Schools surpassed its total of seven at Grangemouth and in Swansea, picked up 5 silver and 6 bronze medals - making a total of eight individual medals and three sets of awards picked up in the boys and girls relay. In addition, there were several new personal bests recorded, sixteen in total and nine close fourth places. Welsh Schools medallists were as follows:
Silver: Macey Morris (U17G 300m Hurdles 44.13)
Silver: Harry Davies (U17B Discus 51.77m)
Silver: Osian Perrin (U17B 3000m 8.23.64)
Silver: Bree Cronin (U17G Discus 40.91m)
Silver: U17G 4 x 300m (Macey Morris, Alaw Evans, Ela Oliver & Sacha Didcote 2.46.01)
Bronze: Samia Jones (U17G 1500m 3.35.56)
Bronze: Ben Reynolds (U17B 1500m 3.56.39)
Bronze: Dafydd Jones (U17B 1500m Steeplechase 4.34.15)
Bronze: Sioned Cordiner (U17G 1500m Steeplechase 5.11.69)
Bronze: U17B 4 x 100m (Tyree Thompson, Thomas Payne, Shay Hardman & Zak Wall 42.56)
Bronze: U17B 4 x 400m (Iwan Glynn, Joseph Reynolds, Ben Hillman & Charlie Holland 3.26.50)
Each of the four countries awarded the best girl and best boy a Meritorious Award for "Best Performance" over the course of the day, with this decision made by the team management of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Picking up the honours for Welsh Schools were Macey Morris (Girls) for her silver medal performance in the 300m Hurdles whilst in the boys, it went to Menai's Osian Perrin who broke the Welsh under 17 3,000m record as a result..
It was the perfect opportunity for Welsh youngsters, in particular those making their debut in a Welsh vest, to test themselves against the best at this top level and compete against athletes they would have not come across before in league fixtures.
It wasn't all about on the track but also off it - it was great to see all the athletes from different clubs across Wales making new friendships and supporting one another. Great team spirit was also clear to see at the end of competition, where all the nations came together to form one big picture at the finish line. They will sure treasure these memories from SIAB for years to come as they continue into the under 20 age group.
This was a team competition with four countries competing against each other - Welsh Schools, English Schools, Irish Schools and Scottish Schools. Medals were presented in the centre of the track to the top three and presented by members of Welsh Schools and the SIAB International Athletic Board.
Once again, the English Schools and Irish Schools teams proved very strong with the white vests of England coming out on top as they did on the last two occasions at Dublin and Grangemouth. Irish Schools were runners-up for the third time running with Scottish Schools' long journey rewarded in third. Welsh Schools' team enjoyed success and good performances across the board as the they finished in fourth spot.
Note that the team scores were provisional and have not yet been made official due to technical issues.
Fifteen Dyfed Schools Athletes join up with Welsh Country Teammates
Congratulations to the six club athletes from Carmarthen Harriers who were part of the 2019 squad as well as another nine athletes from the Dyfed District. This included six Pembrokeshire Harriers and one Llanelli AC young U15 & U17 stars. Each one excelled as they ran, threw and jumped against high quality opposition. Round-Up:
LILI CHURCH - ABERAERON: Lili competed in the Girls' High Jump, the same event as in Scotland last year. Coming in at 1.51 and having had experience of the event already, she cleared the first three heights of 1.51, 1.56 and 1.61 at the first attempt before finishing off with a clearance of 1.61m after attempting the bar at 1.64.
JESSICA LEE - DYFFRYN TAF: Jessica, selected as the youngest Welsh team member in year 8, competed in the Girls' 100m non scoring, Long Jump & 4 x 100m relay. Three athletes lined up in the sprint where Lee claimed victory in 13.01 before a short time later, getting warmed up for the long jump. There was a great result in the long jump, jumping six legal jumps and producing a best of 5.33m in round five to go over the 5 metre mark again. Her day finished in the relay, running the third leg as part of the team who crossed in fourth place.
BECA ROBERTS - BRO PEDR: Beca competed in the Girls' Triple Jump at the Swansea end of the track facility and was selected for this event for the second year running. Roberts went over the 11 metre mark not once, but a total of four times in the same competition to come away with a new personal best! The best jump in the sand of 11.19m was produced in the opening round with further trials of 11.14 and 11.02.
NIA WILLIAMS - BRO DINEFWR: Nia competed at the SIAB International on her debut in the Girls' Shot Put. Finishing third in Cardiff at the beginning of the month, she was called into the squad as a replacement and took full advantage of the opportunity. With a new championship best recorded in the discipline, Williams' best put on the day was 10.62m in the final round and as a result, confirmed a new lifetime best to her name.
IWAN GLYNN - BRO MYRDDIN: Iwan competed in the 400m and 4 x 400m relay after victory at the Welsh Schools Championships in Cardiff earlier this month and was another athlete making it back to back SIAB appearances. The 400m was a close one between all eight with Glynn just missing out on a medal in fourth place in a time of 50.71 behind the strong English duo. The final event of the championships saw Glynn set off in the 1 lap relay and was part of the quartet who took home bronze medals.
DAFYDD JONES - BRO MYRDDIN: Dafydd in his first Steeplechase season was guaranteed to represent Wales in the 1500m SC following victory in the Welsh capital. It was one of the final individual events of the day and it was worth the wait. The leading group broke away at the bell and whilst England took a one-two it was all on the third and fourth spots. Jones was in a great battle with the Scot on the home straight and after a careful look at the photofinish image, the verdict went to the Welshman who won a bronze medal by two tenths of a second in 4.34.15 in probably the closest finish of the track programme.
Dyfed Athletes also in International Action: Ella Wintle Preseli (U17G 200m 26.47); Joseph Reynolds Milford Haven (U17B 400m 52.28 & 4 x 400m); Adam Beer Glan Y Mor (U17B 800m 1.59.49); Kasia Cook Llandovery College (U17G 3K Walk 18.42.99); Tyree Thompson Haverfordwest High (U17B 100m Hurdles 14.13); Meirion Lloyd Bro Pedr (U17B Triple Jump 12.38m); Harry Davies St Michaels (U17B Discus 51.77m); Michael Jenkins Preseli (U17B Discus 35.72m) and Dylan Phillips Bro Gwaun (U17B Shot 13.38m)
The athletes were supported by the management team of eight alongside Team Leader Zane Maynard. With experience at the event and a wealth of experience across all of the disciplines, the Welsh Schools management team were Dai Williams, Peter Walton, Matthew Collins, John Messum, Joan Goldsmith, Delyth Brown, Naomi Davies and Lucy Griffiths.
A bit thanks must also go to officers of Welsh Schools Athletic Association Dai Gatehouse (Chairman), Gerald Davies (Vice Chairman), Gareth Oldham and Meeting Manager Steve Jones for their work and others in front of and behind the scenes over the weekend. Also, to the army of parents and coaches who followed their children to Swansea to support and encourage.
SIAB is set to return in July 2020 when English Schools will look forward to hosting where they will welcome the Welsh, Irish and Scottish next time round.
Next up is the Welsh Athletics Outdoor U20 International on Wednesday 24th July at the Cardiff International Sports Stadium and will see Welsh Athletics and Welsh Schools teams go up against the likes of England South, England Midland, England North, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Guernsey in this end-of-season International. The event will be streamed via Vinco Sport on runjumpthrow.com.
Report & Featured Photos: Nathan Jones