The first athletics session of the 2017 Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games saw England Athletes off to a great start. Team England opening ceremony flagbearer Holly Mills led the way once again with the gold medal in the women’s long jump as Lucy Hadaway took bronze, and more medals in the men’s 1500m for Joshua Lay and Luke Duffy.
Holly (Andover AC, James Coney) produced a leap of 6.19m (+0.4) in the first round to set a mark that nobody else could match amongst disruption for lighting storms in and around the Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau. Teammate Lucy Hadaway (City of York, Matt Barton) claimed long jump bronze with 5.90 (+1.8).
The Commonwealth Youth Games champion said her experiences of the past three days had left her lost for words, “I can’t put the last few days into words. First to carry the flag at the opening ceremony and now to win gold, it’s been unbelievable. When I won all the emotion came out, I was laughing, crying, I didn’t know what to do! I was ecstatic. It’s been the most amazing couple of days ever.”
Lucy also spoke of her pride at sharing a podium with her teammate, “It was really nice to stand next to Holly on the podium because we’ve been competing against each other since we were little and now to get to this stage together was a great moment to share.”
The men’s 1500m produced outstanding performances from the England athletes. Josh Lay (Rugby & Northampton, Anthony Love) lowered his best to 3:49.35 to take silver behind Kenya’s John Wareru (3:48.86) as Luke Duffy (Mansfield Harriers, Richard Massey) also rewrote his best with a 3:49.70 bronze medal winning run ahead of Jackson Sharp of Australia (3:49.92) and Kenyan Edwin Bett.
The women’s 1500m saw a huge breakthrough run for Anna Smith (Newark AC, Richard Massey) as she clocked a five second personal best and, aged just 15, lay second off the final bend before finishing just out of the medals.
She came fourth home in 4:17.99 with bronze taken by New Zealand’s Katrina Robinson in 4:17.19 as Scotland’s Erin Wallace took the title in a very high quality race. Olivia Mason (Border Harriers, Graeme Mason) was 12th in 4:30.88 in the final.
With three rounds of women’s 100m in one session Vera Chinedu (Cambridge Harriers, Ryan Freckleton) was fifth in the Final of the 100m in 12.04 (-0.3) having got faster with every round. She had progressed from the semi finals in 12.14 (+0.8) for a third placed finish and Round 1 with a second placed 12.20 (+1.3) before clocking her fastest run of the competition in the final.
Gaia Osborne (City Of Portsmouth, Bronwin Carter) was sixth in the shot with a mark of 14.91 while Serena Vincent (City Of Portsmouth, Bronwin Carter) took ninth with 13.41.
The qualifiers saw Emma Alderson (Liverpool Harriers & AC, Steve Carroll) progress in the 400m by taking her heat in 54.61, Amber Anning (Brighton & Hove, Steve King) was second in her heat in 54.42 to also progress.
The night before the first athletics session the team captains Sam Bennett (Basildon AC, Steve Surety) and Isabelle Boffey (Enfield & Haringey, Douglas Stone) gave inspirational speeches to their team mates.
Team leader Scott Grace said, “The captains were delighted to have been voted to the roles by their team mates and responded with some rousing speeches that really set the tone ahead of competition beginning. “In what is a first major international championship for many of the team, the captains can play a key role in supporting and encouraging the other athletes. The way the Sam and Isabelle have fulfilled their roles and responsibilities has been tremendous to see, and they have shown real leadership skills in how they have served their fellow athletes.”