ATHLETICS: Northampton runner Williams wins England call-up after superb showing

Emily Williams in her new England vest
Emily Williams in her new England vest

Northampton’s Emily Williams produced another outstanding performance to win her second England call up in successive years by finishing in the top eight as a bottom year athlete in the Inter Girls English Schools Cross Country Championships in Norwich.

The Championship, held on a flat and firm course at the Norfolk Showground in Norwich, is a chance for the best athletes in England to compete to win an England vest and represent their country at the SAIB Schools International against Scotland, Combined Ireland & Wales.

This was the main season target for Williams who was a surprise winner a year ago as a top year junior, and to win another England vest as a bottom year athlete is a magnificent achievement for her.

The championships started with the Intermediate Girls which featured Williams.

From the start the Norrthampton School for Girls pupil, who runs for Kettering Town Harriers, was prominent.

She settled into the top group which was pushing hard in an attempt to split the pack and after 1.5km a breakaway group of three athletes had forged a gap with Williams battling with four athletes just behind.

Williams was unable to make up the gap on the leaders and the medals were effectively decided with 1km left, but she ran a strong race to ensure she made the top eight, eventually finishing seventh over the 3.75km course in 12:48 to secure her selection.

Kettering Harriers coach Shane Smith said: “To win back-to-back England vests at the most competitive of events in athletics is a truly exceptional feat, especially as a bottom year athlete.”

Copson shows quality in Liverpool success

Rugby & Northampton’s Angela Copson BEM won her eighth British Masters Cross Country title when she took victory in the W65 race in Liverpool at the weekend.

Completing the 6k course in a time of 27:49, Copson finished more than four minutes clear of her nearest competitors. It was the veteran athlete’s third consecutive title in this age group and it maintains her unbeaten Cross Country record in all Masters Championships with 27 straight victories.

Copson, who was honoured in the New Year with a British Empire medal for services to running, has now brought her overall gold medal tally to 83. Elsewhere, in the M60 8k race, Ian Wright secured 15th spot with a time of 38:19.

R&N’s young athletes were also in action, competing in a number of Open Meetings over the weekend. Among them was Josh Tutt, who climbed to the top of the UK rankings in the U13B Shot Put, achieving a personal best and club record effort of 11.23 metres at the Barrie Strange Memorial Throws meetings. Maya Reynolds (10.16) and Izzy Thomson (9.03) also set new PBs at the event in Oxford.

Meanwhile, at the Midland Indoor Open at the Alexander Stadium, Amelia Birkett cleared 2.90 metres in the U17W pole vault, again setting a new PB and a club record. Others to impress in the field were Fenton Bishop-Timings, who threw a 41.48-metre PB in the U17M javelin, and U17W Lily-May Pursey, who recorded 10.61m in the shot put.

More personal bests were smashed around the indoor track, too. Mary Beetham-Green (U17W - 7.92) and Ruby Wood (U13G - 8.71) both impressed in the 60m sprint, while U13B Georgo Barabas set a best time of 13.84 over 100m.

Milan Clues continued her progress with a 9.80 time over the 60m hurdles, and Xcena Pasqualin’s time of 10 seconds flat in the U13G race was a new PB and a club record. Pasqualin wasn’t done there, adding a 13.18 PB in the 70m hurdles, and a club record and personal best leap of 1.30m in the high jump.

U15G Eloise Nowill, who holds the outdoor club record in the high jump, made her seasonal debut and added the indoor record to her CV, registering 1.50m. Benjamin Lole (U15B - 10.09) and Megan Burge (U15G - 9.59) rounded off a fine day by setting club records in the triple jump.

The club also turned out in force at the Coventry Half Marathon on Sunday with 35 members completing the 13.1 mile course.

First to finish from the club was Mark Hill, who registered a new PB of 78 minutes. Not far behind Mark, in 16th and 18th places, were Chris Lamb and Paul Rigby with times just outside of one hour and 20 minutes.

Next over for R&N was Jonathan Taylor with another outstanding PB of 1:21:50. The first female finisher for the club was Sally Baker, finishing in 96 minutes and placing her as victor in her age group.

On the other side of the M69, a group of R&N athletes went even further in their preparations for the London Marathon, by completing the Ashby 20-mile race.

The outstanding performance of the day came from Vicky Nealon, who shaved 12 minutes off from her previous best time, claiming overall victory in the ladies race in an incredible 2:14:00.

For the men, Stephen Marks continued his outstanding form of late to claim sixth place overall in a time of 1:59:00. Not far behind Stephen, again with a PB, came ultra specialist Dean Oldfield in a time of 2:07.

Mike Andrews and Iain Botheroyd followed in 2:11 and 2:12 respectively, while the team was completed by the husband and wife pairing of Matt and Caroline Carroll, and Alistair McDonnell.