THE Welsh Schools Athletic Association and youngsters from across all corners of Wales have enjoyed a busy week (March 8th – 11th) with two big annual schools’ events held in the space of four days at Cwmbran Stadium Sports Centre and Penlan Arena Playing Fields in Brecon.
Pupils from five school districts headed to the Cwmbran Stadium Sports Centre on Sunday (8th March) to compete at the 2020 Welsh Secondarry Schools Indoor Sportshall Athletics Final.
The event was the culmination of a series of regional qualifiers held across the eight school districts since the end of last year and the beginning of the new one. It provided a great vehicle for both talent identification and for providing young athletes with a fun, safe and exciting introduction to competitive athletics.
The event in South East Wales saw teams from Powys, Dyfed, Afan Nedd Tawe, Cardiff & Vale and North West Wales battle it out for UK final spots. The final featured team competitions at both under 13 and under 15 with the under 15’s also contesting an individual competition (based on a points system similar to mutli event competition.)
The age group races/disciplines completed throughout the three-hour programme included: Obstacle Relay, 2 Lap Race, 4 Lap Race, 6 Lap Race, 8 Lap Paarlauf, 4 x 1 Relay, 4 x 2 Relay, Vertical Jump, Shot, Speed Bounce, Standing Long Jump and Standing Triple Jump.
The event was once again dominated by the Powys and North West Wales Districts, who ended up winning two team events each and these results guaranteed their place at the UK Sportshall final in Sheffield.
The winning four teams head to South Yorkshire on Saturday 18th April, accompanied by the two U15 individual winners who get the chance to contest the individual competition which runs alongside the team event.
National Cross-Country Championships
For the 58th time and nineteenth consecutive year at the venue, Welsh Schools hosted its National Cross-Country Championships at the Penlan Playing Fields in Brecon on Wednesday (11th March).
Welsh Schools again used its traditional midweek date for the National Championships and used an identical course to the Welsh Inter-Schools and Welsh Athletics Inter-Regional Cross Country Championships held in November 2019.
Eight districts were represented on the day from Afan Nedd Tawe, Cardiff & Vale, Dyfed, Eryri, Glamorgan Valleys, North East Wales, Powys and South East Wales. Each District had held qualifying selection races in January and beginning of February for the right to battle it out against other school pupils across Wales.
Each team could field up to 12 athletes per age group with the first six finishers scoring for their District in the team element.
Despite some course changes due to the recent wet weather, there were some fast running and excellent individual battles on a showery and windy afternoon in Mid-Wales.
For the spectators that turned out, they enjoyed a total of eight races featuring around 550 athletes, which included the year 7 races who made their first appearances at these National Championships since moving up from primary level. There were also junior, middle and senior categories which meant that all secondary school ages could get involved.
Presentations were awarded to the first three individuals in each race as well as the first three Districts which resulted in over 160 medals given out.
Junior and Middle leading finishers will now look forward to representing the association at the Schools International Athletic Board Cross Country which heads to Falkirk in 2020.
Teams from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland will battle it out in the end-of-season match at Callendar Park – Falkirk on Saturday 21st March 2020. Back 12 months ago, the International was held in Dublin, Ireland.
Both the Junior and Middle sections at SIAB also includes a 4 x 1500m relay (mixed), additional boys and girls will also be invited to participate in this event and have been selected by the panel immediately after the Championships on Wednesday evening.
With the winter season now coming to a close after the SIAB Schools Cross Country International, attention will turn to the busy summer track and field season which will see a number of school league and cup competitions between April and August 2020.