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Nick Hunt wins English Schools Combined Events – 21/22 September 2013

Steve Snook reports from Birmingham.

The 2013 T&F Combined Events season was brought to a close at the English Schools Combined Events Championship, held this year at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham over the weekend of 21/22 September.

It seems a shame that, from the whole of Dorset, only four athletes made the journey to the Midlands to represent the county at this prestigious event ... but the good news for us is that all four are Wimborne AC members!

Dorset’s senior boys combined events team finished second in the UK
Jack, Nick (ESAA Champion) and Matt

Combined events competitions, for those of you that don't know, is where athletes take part in a set number of events and their performances are converted to points. The winner is the athlete with the highest points total. For each age group there are slightly different events, for instance the junior girls age group does a pentathlon (group of five events) comprising 75mH, shot putt, high jump, long jump and 800m. Indeed, many of the u11 age group will already be doing quadkids, which is also a combined events competition.

Combined events competition is quite tough, especially as no athlete is truly comfortable with all the events. If the competitions are tough then the training is also very hard ... but on the flip side, training is more varied and interesting. Personally, I think more athletes should give it a go – it's hard, but you get a great sense of achievement, and generally there is a really good spirit amongst the competitors.

Anyway, back to the report on the ESAA Championships ...

As I said earlier, four of our athletes made the trip up to Birmingham – three athletes made up a Dorset team in the senior boys decathlon (Nick Hunt, Matt Curtis and Jack Snook) – and Bethan Burley was the sole Dorset representative in the junior girls pentathlon.

It was Bethan's first year as a junior girl and so she could be forgiven for feeling a bit nervous at the start of the day on Sunday as she lined up for the 75m hurdles. A good run there settled the nerves and then it was on to the shot where she sent the implement out to a new PB. On next to the high jump: this is not one of Bethan's stronger events, but buoyed up with adrenaline and confidence from the shot she jumped another PB. Long jump was to follow and here things didn't go quite according to plan – a reasonable jump but below her best unfortunately. On to the final event, the 800m, and another PB to cap a remarkable debut at these championships. The final result was: out of the 42 starters, 39 completed all five events with Bethan finishing comfortably in the top half of the field in 19th place. Great job Bethan; you should be proud – well done!

Now the boys (or should I say 'men'?) had two long days of competition with the decathlon starting on the Saturday. Both Nick and Matt are first year in the senior boys age group, but are old hands in combined events – Nick being ESAA Champion over the last couple of seasons. Jack, although older, has not competed or trained for any event other than pole vault, and was drafted in to make up the numbers for a team (three to score).

The team of three worked really well together during the competition, helping each other both technically and psychologically.

All three were very tired at the end of the first day (100m, long jump, shot, high jump and 400m) with Nick ending up 3rd, Matt 11th, and Jack 22nd out of 28. As a team they were in 3rd spot – not a bad day's work really.

The question was 'were they up for the final final events on the Sunday?' Well, the enthusiasm was slightly diminished with tired bodies and minds, but everyone was in the same boat, so the attitude was just to get on with it and take each event as it comes.

It was a 09:00 start with the 110mH – quite a shock to the system, but all three were safely through that one and Nick crept up one place to 2nd overall, as did the Dorset team. Soon after that came the discus – a strong event for both Nick and Matt. Nick's performance saw him take the lead in the individual competition with Dorset still in 2nd place. Next up, a long delay before the 2nd pool of pole vault began – this is a strong event for all three athletes, but you still have to produce the performance on the day. This is where their teamwork really came to the fore: Jack cleared 4.00m, and Nick got a new PB which matched that height, while Matt equalled his PB (3.50m) – testament to the efforts of their pole vault coaches: Dave Pearson and Trudi Carter. The delayed start to that event meant that the penultimate event (Javelin) started before we had an update on the scores. After the javelin, there was a small delay while the scores were worked out to enable the athletes to be seeded in the final event (1500m), now due to start at 18:15.

Nick was still in 1st place overall, but, what's this? - Dorset were in the lead by two points!

Sadly, the Kent team had stronger 1500m runners and we had to settle for 2nd team overall – but Nick had done enough to stay in 1st place becoming the 2013 ESAA Senior Boys Combined Events Champion.

Fantastic effort all round – well done to all!


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