Bright blue Kentish skies and sweltering heat gave a stunning backdrop for the latest edition of the SIAB Track and Field International - returning to Ashford once again four years since Kent Schools’ AA hosted the event on behalf of the English Schools’ AA.
The Julie Rose Stadium looked immaculate as it proved to be the perfect setting to bring together the best young Intermediate (U17) athletes from the schools' championships of England, Wales, Scotland and a united team from Ireland. Nearly 300 competitors took part and they in turn provided a number of high quality, tactical and high energy competitions that left the spectators applauding for more.
The chief guest Steve Backley was on hand to provide words of wisdom and advice to the upcoming crop of athletes, whilst the athletes gave their best on both the track and field. Four new championship best performances were recorded in the Boys' 4x100m relay 41.50s by England (beating the 41.62s set by the England team of last year) along with Holly Page (England, Club: Dartford Harriers, Coach: Jason Marchant) competing in her home county and lowering the 1500m Steeplechase mark by nearly 3 seconds to 4m53.94s. Further records fell to Molly Caudery (England, Club: Cornwall AC, Coach: Stuart Caudery) in the pole vault 3.86m and Olivia Stevenson (England, Club: Kingston upon Hull, Coach: Dave Smith) smashing the old hammer record with a new mark of 62.40m.
Overall, the England team won with a combined total of 519.5 points and a gold medal tally of 32.
Event Organiser Ken Burkett commented, "Congratulations to all athletes that took part – many for the first time pulling on the vest of their country and becoming an international athlete."
The next SIAB Track and Field will take place in Dublin in 2017.
Photo by Mark Shearman