7:20am Thursday 20th December 2012
ALL three Vale pupils, who competed at the recent SIAB Schools’ Indoor Combined Events International in Glasgow, came home with a medal.
The trio – Matthew Collins (Barry Comprehensive, u18), and the Cowbridge duo of Annabel Curle (u18) and Tom Trotman (u16) – were members of a 19-strong Welsh Schools’ party – 16 athletes, team managers Dai Gatehouse and Joan Goldsmith, and team coach Mike Guest – who made the long road journey back to Wales in buoyant mood after a long hard day of competition.
The event was held at the new Emirates Arena – one of a number of new facilities opened ahead of the Commonwealth Games in the city in 2014. It is sited just across the road from Parkhead, the home of Celtic, in the east side of the city, and adjacent to the Sir Chris Hoy velodrome. This SIAB fixture was the first track and field international to be held at the venue.
For year 12 Matthew, the excitement of competing at this international for the third time, and wearing a Welsh Schools' vest for the seventh time, was tinged with a little sadness because this was his last year – but he knows that he went out on a positive note, with happy memories.
His previous best for the five events in the indoor pentathlon was set last year at the old venue – the Kelvin Hall. He broke 3,000 points on that occasion - a personal best of 3,082 – but, because of the quality of the competition, he found himself ranked only 12th of the 16 under-18 boys.
This time, all the hard work in training paid off with improved performances in the first four events. Opening with a 60 metres hurdles time of 8.61sec (834), he was already up by over 100 points on his 9.07 clocking in 2011. A modest 21cms improvement with the 5kg shot – 10.66m (525) – kept him on track but his two event score of 1,359 only ranked him 10th.
Since he first started competing in the sport in 2010, Matthew’s sprinting speed has improved, but he has slowed over 800 metres. In this competition, he zipped around an empty Emirates stadium in 23.04sec, the second quickest in the u18 boys behind team-mate Aled Price (Maes yr Yrfa). The 782 points gained pushed his score up to 2,141 points for a sixth place ranking.
With his excellent basic speed, Matthew has the essential ingredient to produce good quality long jump, and he should feel pleased with his best effort of 6.12m, an improvement of 35cms, but it dropped him down the positions, slipping to eighth overall on 2,755.
Surprisingly, the last event – the 800 metres – was a really high quality affair at the sharp end. One of the Scots made the most of home soil to run the four laps in 2min 01.67sec, and there were four more sub 2min 11sec performances. Matthew was 10th in the event, but the 469 points earned pushed him to a new personal best of 3,223 points for a final position of seventh.
The icing on the cake was that Matthew combined with team-mates David Omoregie (Bishop of Llandaff, 1st, 3690) and Aled Price (2nd, 3569) to record a new Welsh Schools' record score of 10,482 points – good enough to claim the team gold medals ahead of English Schools.
That team result means that Matthew goes out on a high having won under-16 team gold in February 2011 and under-18 silver last year, two victories over England in three outings. Well done!
Year 10 Tom Trotman was making his second appearance in the under-16 competition. Last year, in a competition in which only the top three of the 16 boys bettered 3,000 points, he was disappointed to finish 12th with a for him lowly 2,479 points. Although on the day his under-16 squad, which included school-mate George Griffiths, claimed third team place, Tom’s points total did not make him a scoring member.
This year, he opened far more brightly, recording 9.20sec over the 60 metres hurdles to rank 12th on 702 points. Although there were two jumpers over 6m, the overall long jump standard was down, with Tom ranked third thanks to his 5.92m best (569), with his two-event total of 1,271 pushing him up to 10th. He can also feel happy about his 200 metres performance. A 24.09sec time placed him fifth in the age group (685) and his total of 1,956 boosted him to seventh. Another encouraging performance in the shot (4k, 11.53m, 578) gained another top five event ranking and overall sixth place on 2,534 points.
The one essential element missing from Tom’s competition profile is endurance and, on a day when 12 of the 16 boys ran under 2min 20sec, that proved costly.
Tom completed the four laps of the 800 metres in 2min 30.75sec for 313 points and a five event total of 2,847, over 120 points better than in his November outing at the National Indoor Athletics Centre in Cardiff but that 800 metres run dropped him down the order to finish 12th again – but in a much higher quality competition in which the top seven scored more than 3,000 points.
That 12th place made Tom the third Welsh Schools' scorer as they gained bronze medals in the team contest.
For Annabel, this was her debut in this international, though she did compete for the Welsh Schools' team in her specialist event, the high jump, at the SIAB Schools’ u17 international at Ashford in July.
All four members of the squad were coming off a ‘high’ having set new personal best totals at the November Welsh Schools’ Invitation Indoor combined events championships at NIAC. On that occasion, Annabel’s score was 3,057 points.
There was a major reality check in the first event – the shot (4 kg). Annabel’s best put of 6.63m (311) ranked her 16th. Event two – the 60 metres hurdles – was a little better with a 9.78sec timing gaining 754 points and a climb up to 14th place (1,065). At NIAC, the long jump was encouraging with a best of 5.05m but here the progress in the hurdles was undone as a best jump of 4.64m (464) again dropped Annabel to overall 16th (1529).
The Cowbridge year 11 pupil has really improved her high jump over the last two summers and, although not on top form after contesting three events already, Annabel produced a 1.54m clearance – as did her three team-mates. That performance earned 666 points for a four event total of 2,195 points and 15th place.
The overall standard in the final event, the 800 metres, was not as high as in the two boys’ sections. Only two girls dipped under 2min 30sec, with another eight sub 2min 40sec. Annabel ran 2min 44.09sec (527) which ranked her 11th in the event.
Her final points score of 2,722 placed her 13th and helped the Welsh Schools' team finish third ahead of Ireland.
Annabel will be disappointed with that five event total, but knows that she has another year in the age group, and can go over 3,000 points next time.
Congratulations to all three Vale pupils.
The date for next summer’s Joint Welsh Outdoor Combined Events championships has been set as Saturday, June 15, with the Welsh Schools' Invitation Indoor u16 and u18 championships pencilled in for Sunday, November 3 – and the SIAB Schools’ Indoor Combined Events International pencilled in for the Emirates Arena in early December.
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