9 Feb 2009

The Welsh U17 Indoor Championships provided a fast-paced, exciting day of competition which produced several top performances by the young athletes involved.

Threatened by the heavy snow that paralysed Cardiff and Wales in the previous days, the Championships, hosted at the National Indoor Athletics Centre, saw a very satisfactory turnout both in terms of athletes and spectators, with hardly a seat left available on the stands.

Among the several events worth of notice, the 60m U17 men surely needs a mention, with 7 of the top 8 athletes achieving PB’s on the day. Gold medallist Jamie Sexton (Barry & Vale Harriers) lowered his time to 7.19s, improving his previous best of 7.23s recorded during the heats. 7.23 was also the heat time – and personal best – of eventual silver medal Jamaul Whyte (Cardiff AAC), while Wrexham’s Thomas Cusworth clinched bronze with a new PB of 7.26s. New personal records were achieved also by Dewi Hammond (7.32s, Bromsgrove & Redditch), Rhys Williams (7.35s, Cardiff AAC), Michael Howe (7.33s in the heats) and Oliver Edwards (7.37s, heats). Beside a thrilling final, also the heats proved to be a close affair, with several PB’s being shattered in the process.

Cusworth and Whyte featured on the podium of the 200m as well, with the Wrexham athlete being awarded gold thanks to a 23.05s run and Whyte collecting his second silver medal of the day (23.17). Bronze went to Paul Bennett (Carmarthen Harriers), who stopped the clock at 27.98s. The Carmarthen athlete was on form also in the 400m, and won his second bronze medal, having to bow to both Swansea’s Evan Jenkins and Cardiff Jonathon Pengelly. These two athletes’ form was highlighted by new PBs, achieved with times of 51.97s (Jenkins, in the heats) and 53.02s (Pengelly, final).

In the 60m Hurdles, a new Championship Best Performance was set by Rhys Williams, who stopped the clock in 8.51s – just one hundredth of a second less than second placed Daniel Sharrem (new PB for him). The Cardiff pair was joined on the podium by Shane Jones (Neath) who achieved his best ever performance with a 9.02s time, while other finalists Daniel Burton (Deeside) and Jack McDonald (Colwyn Bay) also recorded PBs.

Top performances abounded also on the field, with some tense competitions taking place. Adam Davies (Pembroke Harriers) set his new PB in the High Jump with a leap of 1.93m; he was followed by Ashley Jones (Newport) in second place and Bridgend’s Stephen Guest in third, both athletes jumping 1.80m. In the Pole Vault, Newton Lewis (Cardiff) dominated the competition in front of Emyr Jones of Carmarthen. The leading pair jumped 4.01m and 3.81m respectively, edging out third placed Robert McGregor (Bridgend) who, with 3.81m, set a new PB, a feat accomplished also by the fourth best athlete of the day, Daniel Hodgson of Wrexham.

In the Long Jump, Tom Cusworth, 2nd in the overall rankings behind Julien Allwood, got crowned Welsh Champion with a 6.14m leap, enough to see off the competition of the Newport duo of Michael Payne (6.08m) and Ashley Jones (5.94m). Behind them, Jamie Morris (Bridgend) set his new Personal Best, as did Tom Phillips (Barry & Vale).

The last two events for the U17 Men were Triple Jump and Shot Put. Callum Stout (Cardiff AAC) won the jumping event in style, setting a new PB of 11.15m and edging out another PB-setter, Keiron Martin (Swansea) by a single centimetre. The bronze went to Deeside’s Connor Leckenby. The Shot was won comfortably by Rheon James of Carmarthen, who threw the 5 kilos 13.61m away – more than a meter and a half better than his team mate, and closest rival, Jonathan Gardiner, whose new PB of 12.05m earned him a silver medal. Bronze went to Lewis Jones (11.55m), who also improved his PB.

The Womens’ competitions provided a fantastic show as well. Mica Moore (Cardiff) put in a stunning performance, setting a time of 7.74s to beat reigning champion Hannah Thomas (Wrexham) and to equal Danielle Selley’s 9-year-old Championship Best Performance. Moore’s new PB wasn’t the only one in the race: third placed Hannah Jones of Cardiff also improved her own record with a 8.12s run, and so did 5th placed Eleanor Rowland (8.33s, Pembroke Harriers).

Hannah Thomas went back to winning ways in the 200m, clinching gold in front of Jamie-Leigh Bowen of Cardiff, who set a new PB with a time of 26.37s, half a second more than the winner from Wrexham. Third place was for Samantha Cogan, only one tenth slower than team mate Bowen.

In the 300m, Thomas’s club mate Megan Rogers put in a commanding performance to win gold – more than a full second ahead of 2nd placed Chloe Jones. The 40.97s and 42.10s performances are new PBs for Rogers and Jones – further proof of the quality of the race. A PB was the result also for third placed Katie Lewis from Bridgend, who stopped the time in 42.20s.

The final track competition for the U17 Women was the 60m Hurdles – which was won with one more PB. The gold medal went to Catrin Stone of Swansea Harriers, who was faster than Katie Lewis, who collected her second medal of the competition, and Megan Rogers. Stone’s time of 8.82 was not possible to match for her opponents, despite Lewis setting one further PB with 8.96s.

There was no shortage of good events on the field either. Two new Championship Best Performances were achieved in the High Jump and Pole Vault, with Sarah Abrams and Rebecca Davies setting new benchmarks at 1.63m and 3.41m respectively. Abrams, of Sutton & District, beat Maldwyn’s Sian Swanson’s 1.60m jump, with Stacey Collins being awarded the bronze thanks to a measure of 1.55m. In the Pole Vault, Deeside’s Davies beat Swansea’s Naomi James, who stopped at 3.31m, and Rhianydd Llewellyn (Bridgend), whose top measure was 3.11m. Sarah Abrams continued on her winning day by topping the rankings in the Long Jump. The Sutton athlete jumped 5.45m, a distance unmatchable by her rivals; silver went to Bridgend’s Christie Williams, who adds her silver to the bronze medal conquered in the Senior Championships, while the bronze went to Ffion Rees of Carmarthen.

The Shot event was won by Jasmine Seale of Nantyglo High School who, with a distance of 8.79m, set her new Personal Best. Second placed Lucy Griffiths (Pembroke) also beat her PB with 8.45m, and that was enough to see off the challenge of Carmarthen’s Jessica Northcott. Finally, the day was closed by Sarah Abrams’s remarkable treble – the Sutton athlete adding the Triple Jump gold to the ones already clinched in High Jump and Long Jump. Abrams set a distance of 10.96m and won the competition ahead of Cwmbran’s Amy Bradley (10.67m) and Carmarthen’s Ffion Rees (9.66).