Andover AC boasted a new National Champion, double medal haul and probably its largest contingent ever at this year’s English School’s Championships held at Birmingham’s Alexandra Stadium on the 11th – 12th July with six athletes representing their respective Counties.
Junior Girl Holly Mills took Gold in the Long Jump to earn the highly coveted title of National Champion, and Junior Boy Kai Mumford took Silver in the Hammer.
Recognised as the 4th largest athletics event in the world, the Championships’ brings together the best young athletes in England. The route to the Championships’ is not an easy one, with athletes having to qualify through District and County Championships, and meeting the exacting criteria set by the ESAA.
For Junior Girl Holly Mills this was her second championships having finished 5th last year and she went into the event as one of the favourites ranked number one in the UK and unbeaten this year. However, this was going to be her toughest competition of the year with 20 of the best long jumpers in England taking part and a large crowd was attracted to the event.
Mills was 5th to jump and immediately followed by the girl ranked number two in the UK, Josie Oliarnyk. Mills started with a solid jump of 5.42m but Oliarnyk produced a new PB of 5.52m with her first jump to take the lead and immediately put the pressure on Mills. Two more solid jumps of 5.49m and 5.41m saw Mills lie in 2nd place behind Oliarnyk’s first jump at the halfway cut-off point where the top 8 girls progressed to 3 further jumps.
Mills tends to improve as the longer format competitions progress and in the 4th round she recorded another fine jump of 5.51m, just 1cm down on Oliarnyk’s lead jump. This spurred Mills on and a great jump and new PB of 5.72m in round 5 took her into the lead. Buoyed by this Mills’ confidence was high and in round 6 she pulled out another great jump of 5.76m to improve her PB and increase her lead. With neither Oliarnyk nor the remaining girls unable to improve on their earlier jumps, Mills took Gold and the prestigious title of National Champion, reinforcing her number one ranking in the UK.
This achievement is the result of the dedication and commitment Holly has for the sport and also the support and guidance she receives from her coach, James Coney.
Ever improving U15 talent Kai Mumford went to his first Championships’ as Hampshire Schools’ No.1 Junior Boys Hammer thrower, ranked 6th in the country. At this level he had to overcome his first time nerves and deliver his best performance on the day. Despite incurring injuries prior to the Championships’ his confidence was high off the back of recent performances and that he could compete with the best twelve athletes in England.
Mumford did not disappoint, he took lead with his first round throw of 49.42m – a 3m improvement on his previous best and a new Andover AC club record. The following rounds saw Mumford battling against two exceptional Berkshire athletes Oliver Hewitt and Bayley Campbell – both above him in the UK rankings.
The preliminary rounds were close fought, with Mumford, Hewitt, and Campbell all making the cut for the subsequent rounds. The competition really intensified at this point, with each athlete making steady gains. By now the pressure was beginning to tell as all three hit the 50m mark with their last throws but all red flagged as non-throws due to technical infringements.
Mumford succeeded in splitting the Berkshire athletes, the eventual result being that his first throw of 49.42m was sufficient to win the Silver medal. Now ranked 4th in the UK on the back of this performance Mumford’s confidence is sky high, determined to return next year and take Gold.
Mumford’s coach Stuart Jones has guided, and developed this young athlete beyond all expectation this season; testimony to the hard working bond that has developed between them.
U17 multi-eventer Evie Wilcox recently joined Andover AC this season, and it was her fourth appearance at the Championships’. This young Basingstoke athlete is a highly talented and extremely powerful multi throws athlete.
After several weeks of intensive training with coach Stuart Jones, Wilcox became Hampshire Schools’ No.1 Intermediate Girls Discus thrower, resulting in her selection for the English Schools’ Championships.
Wilcox took to the field in the Discus against 14 of the finest Intermediate Girl throwers in England, including fellow Hampshire athlete Emily Green. Wilcox progressed well through the preliminary rounds having thrown a series of new PB’s.
In the fourth round, she produced her best throw of 37.88m securing 4th position just out of the medals. This excellent performance moved her from 25th to 6th in the national rankings. Wilcox shows real promise in the way her throws have developed, she will undoubtedly return next year seeking higher honours.
Senior Boy Matt Chant despite having missed the majority of the winter through a multitude of injuries had a solid summer season securing PB’s in the 100m and 200m. Matt was drawn in a highly competitive heat for the 200m, and despite a well-executed race he was unlucky to miss the final by two-tenths of a second. Matt was also part of the County 4x 100m Relay team that made the final of the Senior Boys competition.
Senior Girl Amy Jaramazovic was making her first ever ESAA appearance. A likeable, and highly talented athlete Amy was drawn in a heat that included two current GB Junior Internationals and knew the task of qualifying for the final was going to be extremely tough. Despite this Amy gave it her best shot and kept up with the eventual champion through the half-way point, the speed of the race eventually caught up with Amy but she held on to finish just outside her seasons best.
Intermediate Boy Nikko Hunt was selected for the Championships’ after exceptional performances this season in the Pole Vault. Unfortunately he was unable to replicate this good form on the day and experienced three failures at the opening height, so didn’t record a score. Hunt will return to the Championships’, he is an exceptional talent – ranked 3rd in the UK.