Leamington C&AC Boys running with the Athletics Elite
The Leamington C&AC U15 boys relay team received an invitation from British Athletics to run at the Muller Grand Prix which took place in Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium last Saturday, 18th August. They competed at the same competition as the likes of Dina Asher Smith, Greg Rutherford, Adam Gemili and Zhahnel Hughes to name a few so it was an honour to be chosen.
The team had set an early seasons best at a league match earlier this year and were selected by Club:Connect, a British Athletics initiative which recognises and rewards clubs for their contribution in developing athletes at all levels. The team consisted of Matthew Ashbourne, Jack Bower, Jai Sispal and newcomer Sam Morrey an U13 standing in. The boys got to warm-up in the same area as the elite athletes and went through the same call-up process before they were escorted out onto the track. Some of the teams they were to race against included Birchfield Harriers, Coventry Godiva and Solihull & Smallheath. As with high level events, each of the clubs first leg runner was introduced onto the large screen for the spectators to see. Once the starter had called “on your marks” the stadium went silent ready for the gun.
Sam got a great start but was soon passed by the older runner on his inside. He handed over to Matt Ashbourne who then made up some ground on the back straight before handing over to third leg runner, Jack Bower. Bower ran a great leg on the bend and passed the baton on to Jai Sispal to bring it home. Sispal stormed down the finish straight and gained a position, passing the finish line in sixth overall. The time was just outside the teams PB at 50.67 seconds. Once the last relay had taken place for the U20m, all of the athletes were then led on a parade around the track along with the GB Team athletes returning from recent success at the European Games in Berlin.
Sam has written a few words about his experience… “I came into the relay team only two days before the event. I was really pleased to be asked, but a little apprehensive as I was 2 years younger and a few seconds slower than the others in the team. I was also really looking forward to being at Alexander Stadium, I had been there a few times before but never as a competitor. I found the pre-race environment quite nerve wracking; being in the warm up area doing drills and practicing changeovers and then having to wait another half an hour before the race actually started.
As I walked to the start line I was really nervous as I didn’t want to let the team down by messing up my start or the changeover with Matt. My nerves disappeared when got I called to my marks and thankfully my start and changeover went ok and I cheered on the rest of the team until they finished. It was such an amazing thing to be part of and something I will always remember.”
Even though they finished sixth, the boys all stated that it was a great experience and they all enjoyed it. The added bonus was that they were then able to watch big names take part for the rest of the afternoon.