So for anyone who knows and those who have yet to experience English Schools it is regarded as the fourth biggest athletics event in the World and is a two day competition where the future stars of the English athletics body congregate and compete in a team competition representing their Counties. The total number of athletes at the event run into the thousands and the parade of the athletes this year alongside the GB Under 18 Team in the sunshine of the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham was spine tingling.
I was due down there to watch the events and encourage all North-East Counties (Northumberland, Durham, Cleveland and Cumbria) and naturally all the Gateshead Harriers runners, jumpers and throwers specifically Jack Halpin, Luke Allen and Lucy Giles who I coach. However there was a call out for volunteers to also cover each of the events and Tweet via the ES Twitter account @SchoolAthletics …previous knowledge of throwing, Health and Safety and athletes essential. I put my name forward and was luckily selected to be the Official Throws reporter as part of the English Schools Media team. A friendly bunch of people who work hard with a huge amount of enthusiasm and knowledge in athletics generally. I met up with one of them at Gateshead whilst officiating at the ES Track and Field School Cup Final the previous weekend for my Interview.
So on the first day of the competition I was kitted out with Purple High Viz jacket and Media Pass and a full media briefing that I was to cover all throws which on occasion meant four throws events happening at one time and Tweet the recorded distances, leaders after each round and maybe even get a photo of the winner. Luckily for me Lucy’s event was on first on Day 1 so having watched that I then set about the task. I did do some homework the night before and during the first morning and through the Power of 10 rankings and Event Programme could identify perhaps the two or three favourites for each event. So photos were taken of them prior to the event, during the events and if they did win before they headed off to Podium. Recording and posting on the ES site straight away was key to this as the events came in thick and fast as of course there was a lot of Track events taking place simultaneously.
I did manage to cover and watch Jack Halpin winning his event of Junior Boys Shot whilst Senior Women were launching their Javelins. Over the two days there was some absolutely amazing throws…not so much from the Shot Putters, as believe it or not the circle and throws area is uphill in the Stadium which puts a lot of Shot Putters off. However Javelin, Hammer and Discus saw some great throws including two British records and a total of 135 National Standard recorded best throws.
I did my own PB on day 2 of 13,322 steps over 9 KM’s of walking whilst Tweeting 240 tweets, taking with my overheated phone 42 videos and 160 stills. What did I learn? That when recording from the outfield and trying to follow the flight of the Javelin/HammerDiscus you must be aware also of whether it’s actually coming near you!
That particularly in the Senior Throwers the camaraderie and friendship is awesome and they encourage and cajole each other on every throw. That the Officials really do want each athlete to succeed and they toil in hot sunshine all day.
It was a honour to work with the English Schools media team of Emma James, Corinne Hunter and Lijana Kaziow and next year I’ve been promised my own tabard with “Official Tweeter” on rather than Official Photographer.