ANYONE who believes that gold is the only currency worth winning in athletics and the other medals are second rate should talk to Emily Hutchinson, writes KEVIN FAHEY.
It’s doubtful any other athlete more delighted or proud at the two-day 84th English Schools’ Championships than 17-year-old Hutchinson after she won a bronze in the senior girls’ shot.
“I am still buzzing with it all,” said Hutchinson, 48 hours after her triumph at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham.
“It makes it all that much better coming after a few years when the medal proved to be so elusive. It is really exciting and rewarding to finally win my first English Schools’ medal.”
The Devizes School sixth form student, from Bowerhill near Melksham, is certainly no overnight sensation. Clearly talented – she finished sixth in the junior girls’ shot on her debut in 2011 – Hutchinson has also applied hard work and dedication to her sport.
She improved to fifth in 212 and fourth last year before finally making her big breakthrough as a first-year senior.
“It was nerve-wracking when I first started out doing the English Schools but over time I have become more confident and have also trained more so things have become easier and I have finally got my reward,” added Hutchinson.
“I am relieved really and it is definitely my best ever achievement. I have won at county and south west level but never at the nationals and to finally stand on the podium was amazing.
“It is definitely the highlight of my career so far.”
In contrast, rookie Grace Cambers must wonder what all the fuss is about after celebrating her debut in the event, in her first season at athletics, with victory in the junior girls’ high jump.
Relying on natural talent – she has never received any formal high jump coaching – the 14-year-old, a pupil at St Mary’s School in Calne, finished joint first with Rebecca Hawkins, of Kent, as both girls cleared 1.69m.
The top five girls all cleared the same height and failed at 1.72m, meaning the medals were decided on the number of failures at previous heights. Chambers and Hawkins cleared their heights first time so could not be separated.
“Grace was absolutely thrilled,” said proud mum Anna.
“She has always liked athletics and when we lived in New Zealand she won a 100m title in Auckland but this is the first season she has tried the high jump and hasn’t had any coaching yet.
“The people at Wiltshire Schools have been incredibly supportive to her and Grace will shortly join Team Bath as well.”
One of the unluckiest Wiltshire athletes was Sheldon School’s Gemma Shepherd.
Her coach Adrian Clover had predicted that the 16-year-old would produce her best on the big occasion and she did that with a season’s best time, but cruelly for the second successive year she was forced into fourth.
Shepherd kicked hard in the final 200m and seemed to have secured bronze only for her rival to rally and deny her that prize.
Emily Dixon’s fears that recent niggles had robbed her of her sharpness and a little self-confidence proved well founded but the St Augustine’s School student did make the final and came sixth.
The 2013 medallist Grace Davies-Redmond of St Laurence School, Bradford on Avon, admitted she has been struggling for form this season as she makes technical adjustments, which should benefit her long term and failed to progress through the heats.
The other county gold was won by Salisbury’s Sophie Merritt in the senior discus.
English Schools Championships
Senior boys – 800m hts: Ciaran Cooper 1:59.60 (last in heat 4).
Inter boys – 100m round 2: William Kennedy 11.13; 200m, round 2: Austen Lane 22.39; Hts: Owen Harnett 22.86.
Junior boys – 100m hts: Ulas Akkus 11.88; 300m hts: Rory Clark 37.64; 1500m hts: John Howorth 4:26.58; Robert Howorth 4:22.66; Shot: 11 Sam Gilbert 11.90.
Senior girls – 400m hts: Emma Piatek 58.79; Amy Jaramazovic 59.57; 100m hurdles: 6 Emily Dixon 14.79 (hts 14.46 +2.6w); 400m hurdles: 4 Lizzie Clifford 62.18; 1500m steeplechase: 10 Alex Mundell 5:25.82; 4x100m relay: DQ; Shot: 3 Emily Hutchinson 11.52.
Inter girls – 1500m: 4 Gemma Shepherd 4:29.95; 3000m: 13 Zoe Wassell 10:11.40; 24 Yasmin Watling 10:45.02; 300m hurdles hts: Grace Davies- Redmond 46.36; Discus: 1 Sophie Merritt 44.46; Hammer: 12 Ellie-J Webb 45.15.
Junior girls – 1500m hts: Caitlin Wosika 4:51.62; High jump: 1= Grace Chambers 1.69 & Rebecca Hawkins (Kent); Javelin hts: Ottilie Knight 26.83.
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