Records fall at UKYAL final

Tue 6 September 2011--admin

A tired but jubilant City of Lisburn squad arrived home safely on Sunday night after an extremely successful trip to the UK Young Athletes League Finals where no less than 36 individual plus two relay medals were won at the world class Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. The icing on the cake was Northern Ireland YAL 4x100m relay records by both the U13 and U15 girls, by Phoebe Tan in the U13 high jump and by Cameron Kelly in the U13 75m hurdles. The squad of 50 athletes exceeded all expectations to pull in such a medal haul as well as over 40 PB’s to finish in 7th place overall in the Auxiliary final – a great achievement from the 250 clubs who compete across the UK each year in this event. Every single member of the squad represented the club and the sport of athletics in Northern Ireland in magnificent fashion, both with their performances in the stadium and with their general conduct.

On the big day after a team talk at the hotel the anxious squad arrived at the stadium at 9.30am for a photo call and to check out the impressive facilities. Nerves were settled somewhat by the friendly faces of a handful of local officials who had been invited over as well as the familiar tones of John Glover over the PA system. Once Team Captains Kathyrn Case and Josh Garnham had finished the parade on the home straight which formed part of the opening ceremony the UK Finals had begun!

U13 Girls (Team Manager – Joanne Savage) 8 medals and two NIYAL records. Athlete of the Match – Rebekah Douglas

The girls travelled with hopes of medals but amazed everyone with their ultimate success. Jodie Savage had the privilege of securing the team’s first medal of the day with a bronze in the B shot whch helped settle the nerves of the rest of the squad. Alix Galbriath was unfortunate to throw the same distance as the bronze medallist in the A shot only to miss a medal due to an inferior next best throw but she had the consolation of a 7.96m PB. First track medal of the day was from the B 150m where Rebekah Douglas smashed her PB with a 22.21s run for bronze. She later ran 2:30 in the A 800m which secured her another bronze. The middle-distance successes continued with a perfectly paced run from Madison Bowyer in the A 1200m for silver in 4:08 and Niamh Madden secured silver again in the B race with a devastating sprint finish.

Sarah Woods has been a key member of the U13 squad all season and performed to her usual high standard in the hurdles and long jump while Rosie Henderson broke her PB with 2.36.15 for 4th in the B 800m. Therese Hillman smashed her PBs at both 75m and 70 hurdles. The high jump saw Phoebe Tan produce a brilliant 1.46m high jump to not only win silver but also break the 12 year-old NIYAL record! In the B string there was another good jump by Alix Galbraith who cleared 1.35 for silver again. The finale as ever was the relays and the settled squad of Rebekah, Phoebe, Therese and Niamh took over a second off their time from the NI finals in July with 56.53s which eclipsed Lagan Valley’s 2005 NIYAL record. The blistering finish of Niamh Madden bringing the squad from 4th to silver on the anchor leg will live long in the memory.

U13 Boys (Team Manager – Tracey Ritchie) 9 medals. One NIYAL record. Athlete of the Match – Connor Irving

The U13 boys may not have quite matched the record-breaking exploits of their female counterparts. However they had a very strong team here which also won their category at the NI finals, and they were able to bring home an excellent nine medals. Louis McGuckian had a fine silver in the B long jump as well as contesting both sprints. Thomas Quinn won the high jump with 1.40m and also took a silver from the hurdles. Matthew Robinson competed in the shot and was delighted with his bronze in the B string. The 1500m saw an excellent run by Connor Irving, who eventually settled for silver in a useful 5:00 while Matthew Neill backed him up with bronze in the B for a successful finish to his track season.

Christopher Larmour had a couple of good runs in the 100m and 800m which suggest he’ll be challenging for medals at this level in the not-too-distant future.Sean Terek ran another good race in the A 800m and will have benefitted from the experience. Cameron Kelly’s day was the stuff of dreams as he won the A high jump in 1.40m, was second in the hurdles in a PB and NIYAL record 12.37s and 3rd in the shot with a 9.10m (PB). His fine run in the hurdles puts him well into the UK top ten this year and was also a NIYAL record! Cameron, Thomas, Chris and Louis combined to finish 5th in the relay.

U15 Girls (Team Manager – Andrea Anderson) 13 medals and one NIYAL record. Athlete of the Match – Jane Anderson

Much was expected of this team after their exploits at Antrim in July when they completely dominated the NIYAL final. In the sprints Erin Quinn ran to her usual high standard to take home 100m A silver and 200 B bronze. The graceful Roseanna McGuckian was poetry in motion as she sped to bronze in the A 200m. Katie Larmour is one of the most improved athletes in the squad this year and despite a hint of a stumble out of the blocks powered her way to a 13.32 PB into a headwind. Rumours that she was allegedly heard telling a team-mate at the airport that she was now going to quit hockey to concentrate on her athletics remain unconfirmed!! In the sprint hurdles Jane Anderson’s 12.01s victory was one of the classiest track performances of the day. Megan Marrs backed her up with a 12.26m PB of her own in the B race – also into a strong headwind. Caitlin Rose ran a great PB of 2:41 for 4th in the A 800m and finished in the same position in the A javelin. Aoife Doherty’s silver in the B javelin was a surprise to nobody except herself as she finished her season on the podium yet again. Other throws medals were won by Kathryn Case with a captain’s throw for bronze in the A shot with Natalja Ritchie making up for her 4th place in the B shot by taking bronze in the B discus.

In the high jump Jane Anderson and Megan Marrs both cleared 1.50, with Megan finishing ahead of Jane following Jane’s two attempts at 1.45. This lead to the unfortunate Megan placing 4th in the A string with Jane claiming gold in the B. Long jumpers Roseanne McGuckian (A) and Jessica McMaster (B) had a double victory at the NI final in July and did the same here for another pair of golds with some excellent jumping.  Back in the middle-distance events Natalie Fair was 7th in the A 800 with Zoe Carruthers and Emma Neill taking the same position in the 1500m races – notable for a promising 5:57 for Emma on her debut over the distance.

However in what was possibly the highlight of the entire day the girls lined up for the 4x100m relay with one thing on their mind – North Down’s 2003 N. Ireland league record of 51.26s which they had narrowly missed on several occasions earlier in the season. The girls were easily spotted as they made their way from the call room onto the track in the crazy “go-faster” flourescent socks they had chosen to set-off their Lisburn strip. In the race the girls had the experience of running behind an U15 girls squad from Blackheath and Bromley who ran a mind-blowing 48.21s to smash the UK league record. The pumping adrenaline and the screaming support from the Lisburn section of the grandstand saw the girls produce the run of their careers to claim third place. There was an agonising wait before the official times were confirmed – they had done it! 50.37s is an excellent time which is also inside the U17 NIYAL record!

U15 Boys (Team Manager – Phil McIlfatrick) 3 medals. Athlete of the Match – Andrew Hutchinson

First off the mark in the U15 boys was Josh Jordan who threw a fine 32.45m to take silver in the hammer (and later finishing 4th in the discus). After this the boys squad were finding the medals a little harder to come by than their female counterparts , although there were plenty of near misses. Everyone felt for Ben Fisher who was fourth in all three of his events – B Long Jump, B high jump and B hurdles. Sam Wallace contributed well with good points from 100m and 800m plus a shot PB. Jonny Whan was 5th in the A 1500m with a solid 4:43 performance. Callum McLaughlin somehow managed to nurse his sore groin through three individual events with a good run over 200m for 4th probably his highlight. Jack Howard ran PBs in both 100m and 400m.

Predictably however it was Andrew Hutchinson who was the star of this category. Annoyed after claiming only a silver with 1.70m in the high jump he was perhaps still distracted as he appeared to false start in the 80m hurdles which followed immediately after. However, the field were all given a second chance which Andrew took in style – running a 11.71s PB into a headwind to preserve his unbeaten record over 80m hurdles this season – quite a feat! Everyone was looking forward to another medal chance in the relay but for the second time this season the boys droppped the baton although still finished 5th after a flying anchor leg from Andrew and a DNF and DQ elsewhere in the field.
U17 Girls (Team Manager – Annie Rose) 4 medals. Athlete of the Match – Courtney Sloan
This team were weakened by the absence of three of their stars who were in Sheffield at the UK School Games, but despite this they still acheived an excellent four medals including two golds! The wins came in the hammer with a 24m throw from Ruth Hewlett winning the A and Amanda Mitchell throwing 20m to win the B string for only the second Lisburn double of the day (along with the U13 boys’ high jump). The girls also performed well in the other heavy throws with Amanda placing 4th in the A discus and Ruth coming 4th in the B shot. Ella McCathie performed well and enjoyed the experience in both sprints and javelin.
The familiar elegant style of Jessica Robinson saw her ease to good performances in the A sprints including a PB at 100m. The versatile Jenny Skelly performed well in the horizontal jumps and also the hurdles with two 5ths and one 4th place. But the surprise package of this team was Courtney Sloan who produced two inspired PB runs to collect unexpected silver medals in the A middle distance races (2:24 and 5:03). Finally Ella, Jenny, Courtney and Jessica managed 7th place in the 4x100m.
U17 Boys (Team Manager – Jonny McWhinney) 1 medal. Athlete of the Match – Aaron Dalzell
A relatively inexperienced U17 boys’ team produced many good performances throughout the day. Captain Josh Garnham ran well at 100m and 400m with a PB over the one-lap of 55.99s along with 4th place in the B high jump. Stuart McEwan ran well in both sprints with a 5th in the B 200m his highlight and a surprise 4th on his debut in the B javelin. All-rounder Cameron Powell scored good points in high jump, discus and javelin. Scott Coates was close to the medals in both the sprint and 400m hurdles. Dominic Martin’s excellent track season finished with a PB in the A 800m and another good run over 400m. However just as the thought of a possible “nil return” by the boys was starting to creep into a few minds Aaron Dalzell stepped forward with an unexpected silver over the sprint hurdles! He also ran superbly in the A 200m where his 23.86s PB gave him 4th. Kadhum Hasson showed his verstility with points at shot, long and triple jumps. The speedy quartet of Aaron, Kardum, Stuart and Josh had a fantatsic run in the relay with a 46.59s SB for 4th.
Back at the hotel after dinner there was a short de-brief of the day at which the medals and records where cheered again and the Athlete of the Match T-shirts distributed. This included a very special garment for the Overall Athlete of the Match which went to Cameron Kelly of the U13 boys who was the only athlete in the entire squad to bring home three individual medals from his three events to go along with his record.
So all-in-all an unforgettable trip for the club. The young athletes really enhanced the reputation of athletics in Northern Ireland with their performances on the track and their conduct off it. Thanks to all the Team Managers who worked tirelessly round the clock (literally!) all weekend. And thanks of course to the wonderful band of additional coaches and parents who chose to make the trip – your support was invaluable.
Well done and congratulations to all – here’s to 2012!!!