ATHLETICS: Heptathlon medals for Wright

James Wright with his medals in Sheffield
James Wright with his medals in Sheffield

Rugby & Northampton AC

This weekend saw a roller coaster ride for the Rugby & Northampton AC athlete James Wright at the indoor British heptathlon championships in Sheffield.

After a gruelling two days physical competition, where mental strength is key, James rose to the challenge taking a much-deserved bronze in the under 23 championships and gold in the Midlands.

The weekend started well with a new PB of 7.14 seconds in the 60m, the fourth fastest time of the day. With one of his favourite events up next James put in two huge long jumps, both marginal no jumps, meaning James went into the final round needing a legal jump for any hopes of medals to remain alive.

Given the words PB or bust by his coach, James leapt to a new 6.89m PB against the odds. The shot again saw real strength of character with two poor first round throws to then launch a new PB and indoor club record of 11.75cm.

The final event of day one saw a solid 1.81m in high jump.Sustaining a hamstring injury in the long jump it was touch and go whether James would compete on day two. With James’s main event hurdles up first he decided to give it a go. After a false start initially he went into the re-run tentatively, yet still ran just outside his best with 8.4s. The surprise of the day came in the pole vault where a very long competition saw a series of exciting jumps in the later rounds cleared on the last attempt, giving James a 20cm PB with a 3.50m vault.

With the leg holding together, James needed to beat the athlete lying in third by ten seconds in the 1k to secure under 23 championship bronze.

Going out strongly from the outset James ran a great race, leaving everything on the track to finish with a new PB and 14-second gap to take third in U23 championships.

Also competing in Sheffield was Theo Walkley-Bartlett, who grabbed himself bronze in the Midlands U20 contest, setting three PBs along the way.

A time of 3-23.32 was a new best time over 1000m for Walkley-Bartlett and he excelled in the field too, clearing heights of 1.69m and 2.92m in the high jump and pole vault respectively.

R&N were also well represented in Warwickshire over the weekend, with a number of young athletes competing in the Warwickshire Cross Country Championships.

The U15 girls and boys both secured team bronze medals, with Georgina Woodward leading the way for the girls.

Woodward finished 5th in a time of 16:36, and she was soon followed over the line by Hollie Moore (7th – 16:54) and Olivia Sheehan (14th – 17:24).

For the boys, Rhys James was the first R&N athlete home in 14:48, while Cian Hutton (13th – 15:15) and Myles Martin (14th – 15:20) rounded off the scoring for the team.

George Goodwin and Tilly Lea produced strong runs in the U20M and U20W races, both grabbing second-placed finishes. Goodwin finished in 19:31 to seal silver, and Lea matched that achievement – a time of 22:35 earning her a place on the podium.

Finally, there was further individual success over the weekend, where Rebecca Leadbeater was taking part in the Buckinghamshire County Championships.

The U20 athlete raced around the 6k course in 22:39, securing herself the silver medal.