Monday, 10 September 2007

End of Season Round-Up

Amelia has just finished her season with a 75m hurdles win and a long jump win at the 'Lily B' Women's League Final at Kingston. She was due to compete in the English Schools Combined Events (Pentathlon) Championships in Exeter on 16 September, but has had a long and arduous season and both she and her coach feel it is one event too many - she is very tired and there would be nothing to lose or gain by competing in this event. The only loss is that she won't now be eligible for an England vest in Glasgow in December, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, since a competition in the middle of Winter training is not ideal. She has a very busy season next year, in her first year of Under 17 Women's competitions, so the decision has been made to call it a day for this season. Amelia's fine, but Mum and Dad are a little disappointed!!
The children are all back at school (all at the same school, Graveney) now and thoroughly enjoying the new challenges they are facing in their new years.
We all had a lovely holiday in Croatia - 2 days in Split, 4 days on the island of Vis (look it up - the furthest Croatian island from the mainland!) and 4 days in Krilo, just south of Split. Lovely country, lovely weather, lovely swimming and sunbathing!
The next major event on the horizon is Father's 80th birthday (21st) and the celebrations (22nd) before he moves to Ripley in Yorkshire for a year.
This is followed immediately afterwards by Bob's second (of three) heart operations. He is going in to St George's, Tooting for a left atrial ablation on 27 September and should be out the following day with a fortnight's recovery period. Fingers crossed that he only needs the one operation, but this procedure can take two or three attempts before the irregular heartbeat is back in normal rhythm for good. We'll let you know.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Belated update - sorry !

Much has happened in the last few weeks and the blog doesn't seem to have been up there at the top of my list - for which I now apologise.
Amelia has continued to compete well, running and jumping her way into more medal-winning positions. She recently obtained her first International Vest for Wales when she competed in the Celtic Games in Northern Ireland - a gold and silver in her first international is a real achievement.
Tom has been spending loads of time with his friend Bobby who has now moved to Somerset. Tom then spent 10 days with Bobby's family there too! Tom's now back with us, but another trip can't be that far off!
Robert has been occupying himself over the holidays and had various attempts at tidying his room and customising his bike! He has stayed with his friend Blake in Dorking and spent time with his London friends as well.
Bob's heart rhythm has, unfortunately, gone back out of whack. I think this may have been expected by the doctors and the operation to correct this (hopefully permanently) has now been set for the 27th of September (this will be the second of three procedures). We have been warned that the operation may need to be repeated - possibly several times - for it to be deemed a success and then he can have the hole in his heart closed. That procedure, however, is awaiting a biodegradable device becoming available properly and not just at the trial phase as it is at present in the UK. We will keep you informed.
And finally Anne is getting her head around the Falklands War of 1982 - yet again - as many memories have once more been brought to the surface with the 25th Anniversary of the war and lots of media coverage and commemorations. This has been added to with Anne meeting up with her ex-boyfriend, David Trish, and his wife in Yorkshire where Anne stayed for a couple of days at the end of July. David has lots of Falklands demons too (unsurprisingly, since he served in HMS ANTELOPE which was sunk), and Anne is trying to help David sort those as well as David helping Anne. Bob and Caroline (David's wife) have been really supportive of all of this and definite progress is being made on the 'madness' levels!!
The children are all back to school on 4th September, so we will try and update the blog once they have some more news to report.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Busy Summer

Amelia (and the rest of the family) are having a busy summer so far ... Amelia took part in the London Youth Games at Crystal Palace at the end of June and competed in Tag Rugby (Wandsworth won) and also Athletics. She thoroughly enjoyed the rugby and was scouted for contact rugby with the Mitcham Bulls - she's still deciding whether or not to do it!
Tom is increasing his social circle to include members of the opposite sex and taking regular trips to TopMan and Oxford Street (and various other places that we find him only once we have called his mobile ... great thing this independence!) He is also, now, officially taller than Amelia and is picking up a free hair or two on his top lip with every centimetre he grows. His voice has not gone through the croaky stage, but it is definitely deeper. And, unfortunately, he has also just been diagnosed with vitiligo which is where your skin loses pigmentation and develops pale patches. It means he has to be careful in the sun and use a steroid cream for a while.
Robert has taken to cricket like a natural. His school team won the Wandsworth Borough competition to represent them at the Surrey Boroughs Cricket Final at the Oval. They made it to the second round before being knocked out (by only 3 runs!) but at least they can tell their grandchildren they played on the Oval's hallowed turf. Robert is also getting ready for his Primary School Leaver's Prom and a great day out at Thorpe Park before he leaves for secondary school in September; he will be joining Amelia and Tom at Graveney in Tooting.
Anne attended the Falklands 25th Anniversary Parade in London on June 17 and met up with some old 'Antelopes' as well as meeting Admiral Sir Alan West and Dr Rick Jolly (the latter was a bit of an ambition, as he is an amazing medic who saved many, many lives in the Falklands Ajax Bay Field Hospital during the conflict). She is travelling to Yorkshire at the end of July to meet with her ex-boyfriend David Trish (who served in HMS ANTELOPE) and his wife Caroline for a couple of days.
Bob is no longer suffering breathless episodes as his heart op #1 seems to have worked well. He is training daily and running sometimes with Amelia.
So, all in all, we are doing well and filling our time. Next update should be after the English Schools Championships on 13/14 July in Birmingham.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

South East England Schools Pentathlon Champion !

Amelia competed in a wet and chilly Hendon today for the South East England Schools Combined Events Championship. After some tough competition from Berkshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex (particularly in the High Jump) she came in the Winner and now goes on to represent London at the English Schools Championship in Exeter in September.
Oh! And the Team Manager had another commitment today (Sunday) and couldn't be with the London Schools Team at Hendon so, guess who was made Team Manager for the day? Yup! Anne has now added 'Team Manager, London Schools Athletics Team' to her CV!!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Bob's Heart Op #1 (of 3)

Bob had the first of three procedures on his heart on Tuesday 19 June. This first procedure was a cardioversion - where they place paddles on your chest and shout things like "Stand Clear" and "charging to 200"!
The result was two large rectangular red marks on his chest and a heartbeat which is back in a normal ('sinus') rhythm for the first time in 4 years! And he has now dropped the beta-blockers from his medication (they slowed his heart down).
The procedure is done under a general anaesthetic as it is pretty uncomfortable - the heart is stopped and then restarted with an electric shock. Bob's heart restarted okay, but it only beat at 20 beats per minute to begin with, so he was given some atropine to speed it back up again to a normal (for Bob) 40-45 beats per minute. The ECG he had afterwards showed a lovely regular trace and there were sighs of relief all round!
The next procedure should take place in the next couple of months to complete the process of removing all irregularity from Bob's heartbeat (atrial fibrillation catheter ablation for those of you who are interested!), and then they can finally close the hole in Bob's heart. We'll keep you posted, but Bob seems to feel fine and has taken off for a boys' weekend (5 days) in Poland this morning with three friends!

We are still here ... !

Various things happening at home have led to the Blog being left on one side for a while - however, here is an update:
The children have been doing really well.
Amelia became the South of England Long Jump Champion and Triple Jump Champion at Ashford in May, followed by the London Schools 100m Champion and Long Jump Champion on 9 June at Battersea. Unfortunately, the Welsh Championships were missed as her entry went astray in the post. However, on the same day (16 June) there was an open meeting at Herne Hill (Tooting Bec) and she came 1st in the 200m, 100m, Long Jump and 75m hurdles.
Her next meeting is this Sunday when she attends the South East Schools Pentathlon Championships representing London at Barnet Copthall, Hendon.
Tom claimed 3rd place and bronze medals in his 200m and Long Jump for Wandsworth Schools at Tooting Bec, just missing out on qualification for the London Schools Championships.
And Robert claimed 2 Golds (150m and 4 x 100m relay where he ran the first leg) and 1 Silver (Long Jump) in the Southfields Community College Local Primary Schools Championships at Wimbledon Park on 12 June. On the same day, he went on to play cricket for his schools, Sheringdale, in the local Putney Primary Schools Sports Association Cricket Championship. His team won the final with Robert's contribution being some good batting and fielding and a superb 'caught and bowled' for the school team.
Robert goes on to play in the Wandsworth Finals of the local London competition and, if they win that this week, they will play at the Oval!

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Been offline for a bit, but just a quick update: Amelia competed in the Surrey Championships on 12/13 May and came away with three Golds - 100m, 200m and Long Jump. It was a thoroughly wet and soggy weekend, so her coach advised her not to do Triple Jump. However Three Times Champion was a good weekend's work.
With a short break until the South of England Championships on 26/27 May, Amelia went with Anne to a recommended Sports Physiotherapist in Chiswick - Kim Hobbs. Kim was herself a long jumper and pole vaulter and she treats national and international athletes at major events, so she knows her stuff. She said that Amelia's ankle, although still swollen, was not damaged permanently and that strengthening it was the best thing for it - so no support and more bounding, jumping and skipping! Basically, she was given the all clear to compete and take on triple jump at the South of Englands.
Home that night to a message waiting on the ansaphone - the London Schools Combined Events Championship didn't seem to have an entry for Amelia Richards. To add to that problem, no-one had thought to let us know of a date change from 23rd June - the event had been brought forward - it was tomorrow!!
Mad phone calls all evening secured Amelia an official entry, and she took her place with other London Schools competitors at the Lee Valley Stadium on the 23rd to compete in her five pentathlon events. The standard and organisation was quite poor, considering London has 33 Boroughs and goodness knows how many schools to pick from, but Combined Events is not as popular as individual events, so the competitors were thin on the ground.
With beautiful weather helping things along, Amelia competed well and came away with a London Schools Championship Gold Medal. This automatically enters her for the South East Team to compete in English Schools later in the year in Exeter. Had she missed the Lee Valley event, she may not have automatically entered English Schools, and without that she would not have a chance of taking an England Vest at the International Schools meeting in Glasgow in December. "Phew!" was said more than once on the 23rd!
On to the South of England Championships this weekend - 200m and Long Jump on Saturday, 100m and Triple Jump on Sunday. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Update on Amelia

Amelia hasn't been hiding, but she did twist her ankle doing athletics at school, so she missed the first National Young Athletes meeting at St Albans last weekend. She is doing some gentle training on it now and has had a physio look at it, so hopefully she will be competing this weekend in the Surrey Championships.

Monday, 30 April 2007

Amelia's New Long-Jump Personal Best

Amelia took part in the first round of the Southern Women's League at Sutton on Sunday. Only planning to take part in the long jump, Amelia also contested and won the high jump (1.45m) and finished 3rd in the relay (running last leg).
Her long jump was fantastic. Perfect conditions - sunny with a light breeze - Amelia no-jumped the first jump, but then shot to 5.56m - 21cm past her PB of 5.35m from last summer - and followed that up with four more jumps of 5.35m, another no-jump, 5.49m and 5.46m. Very consistent and one very happy Amelia!

Monday, 23 April 2007

London Mini-Marathon

Amelia and Anne were up with the sparrows on Sunday morning for a 7.15am rendezvous with the Wandsworth Borough Team for the London Mini-Marathon.
The race was divided into age groups and Amelia was in the London Borough Challenge Girls 13-14 group, which set off from Southwark Bridge at 9.43am to complete the last 2.6 miles of the London Marathon course.
Amelia finished in a time of 18m 18s, although she did admit to not going at it full-blast. The system is that the Boroughs go off in alphabetical order, so being in Wandsworth, Amelia's group were some of the last to go. Having now competed for the first time, and the starting system changing for next year, she has said that she would have a more determined race next year!
However, she did compete on the day and has the Adidas London Mini-Marathon medal to add to her collection.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Robert's 11th Birthday!

Robert had a great birthday with loads of physical activity.
He invited four friends to join him for an hour's ice-skating at Guildford's Spectrum leisure centre, followed by 2½ hours of swimming (phew!).
As if that weren't enough, they then came home to Balvernie Grove for 'Little Britain' DVDs, curry and a sleepover - although I don't think much sleeping was done by the sounds coming from the dorm!
One very excited and tired Robert today on his first full day as an 11 year old!

Hercules Open - Off to a Good Start !

All three members of Team Richards took part in the opener to the Outdoor Track & Field Season at the Hercules Wimbledon Open Meeting at Crystal Palace.

With 500 athletes taking part in the day, Robert started the Richards' proceedings with his 100m sprint. He finished 7th in his race with a time of 15.9s. This equalled his PB from last seasons and is now his benchmark for future events. He is competing in the Boys U13 age group, which means that he is one of the youngest in each competition, so this was a good start.

Tom then ran his 100m, finishing 4th in 13.4s - again, a good time and a good beginning to his season. He is competing in the Boys U15 age group, which means that he is also one of the youngest in his competitions.

Then Amelia ran her 100m, finished 1st in 12.7s. The transition from Winter to Summer seasons (indoor to outdoor) was beginning smoothly.

Amelia then took part in the 200m race, again finishing 1st in a time of 26.0s, a new PB.

Tom followed this race in his 200m race, finishing 4th in a time of 28.1s, also a new PB.

A short gap for lunch was followed by Amelia's Long Jump. With four possible jumps, Amelia was only able to take two because she had to run 4th leg in the 4 x 100m relay! However, her first jump was her best with a distance of 5.10m, putting her in a winning position.

The relay was one of two - Robert took part in the Boys U13 4 x 100m, running the 3rd leg. Amelia's team finished 5th and Robert's team finished 4th.

So, PBs all round. Amelia's times / distance in her three events qualify her for the English Schools Championships, meeting the Standards in all three events. As well as this, she qualified for England Athletics Grade I Standard in all three events.

Overall, not a bad start to the season !

Saturday, 31 March 2007

Anne's travelling North

Anne is off on Saturday 31st March to Glasgow to keep an eye on Izzie while Richard, Loddy, Sam and Pip head off for the piste.
Anne returns to London late on Easter Sunday (8th April). She can be contacted on her mobile (if you need it, you already have it!) or Richard and Loddy's home number, as well as MSN once Izzie is in bed!

Friday, 30 March 2007

Tom and Robert join the fray

Tom and Robert have both competed in athletics over the last couple of seasons, but not as seriously as Amelia. This year is a hard year for both as they move up an age-group: Tom (although not quite 13) joins the U15 group, while Robert (not quite 11) joins the U13 age group.
Tom has recently taken an interest in training with Amelia, which is great. Her coach, John, has invited him to try out with their group on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at Sutton and he seems to already have shown himself to John as a 'natural runner' - he hasn't got anywhere near the technical experience of Amelia but, although the starts need some work, he often manages to keep up with her on the sprints. It will be really interesting to see how he does in competition this season. At least he now says he "loves athletics" - a real change from last year's lack of enthusiasm for training!
And Robert is showing just how bouncy he really can be. He was trying out high jump at Sutton last week while Amelia and Tom were doing their core stability exercises and effortlessly scissored a 1.25m bar - Amelia's best is only 1.50m carried out with a more professional Fosberry Flip! Some potential there, then.
Look out for the April 15th results.

Amelia sweeps the board

At the Hercules Wimbledon AGM and Awards Evening in Wimbledon Park on Wednesday 28th March, Amelia was the first athlete called up. The build-up was as follows:
"Her performances for 2006 have been phenomenal. I think she's medalled in almost everything she took part in; I think she's actually done a record in almost everything she's taken part in. This young lady, this year, wins:
  • The U15 200m Humphrey Cup
  • The Hurdles Cup
  • The 800m U15G Cup
  • The Junior Jumps Cup, and
  • The Pentathlon Shield
And [holding up the Outstanding Performance Tray] this trophy's normally for one performance but actually it's been decided this year to award it for all the outstanding performances ... and they all go to ... Amelia Richards."
The trophies were all presented to Amelia by Brenda Bedford (nee Sawyer) - the holder of the most GB vests ever and still ranked No.12 in the UK, ahead of Denise Lewis, for shot - even though she competed internationally in the 60s!
One very proud mother and an equally chuffed daughter! A good round-up to the indoor season. The outdoor season now starts on April 15th with the Hercules Open at Crystal Palace, a meeting where anyone can enter, even if they don't belong to a club - any takers ... ?

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Bob's home

Just to let anyone know who was worried by the last blog's reference to Bob being in hospital: he is now back home and back at work, absolutely fine. Sorry if we worried anyone, but he was just sorting out blood thickness levels because his blood had become very thin. He had to remain in hospital for the week until they had stabilised back to a 'normal' rate, which they've now done.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

A bridge too far ...

On Thursday Amelia had a hurdles training session with Judy followed by a shot session with John. She seemed pleased with how both had gone and was relaxed and confident about the weekend to come.
We drove to Manchester on Friday night and stayed at a Travelodge close to the track. On Saturday morning, after a reasonable start and good breakfast we headed for Manchester SportsCity - the indoor track which was used as a warm-up area for the Commonwealth Games.
Amelia was still in confident mood as she lined up for her 60m hurdles race - the first event of the final indoor championship of the season.
The starter's gun went and Amelia made a rocketing start - unfortunately it was too fast a start! She had used her sprinting start instead of her hurdling start and was running so fast that she over-strode to the first jump. This took her too close to the hurdle to take off properly and she had to pull up. Instead of stepping over and continuing to take some points in the overall pentathlon, her deflated body told her to stop. She walked away with the wind completely taken out of her sails.
After a quiet chat (and a few tears) with coach Trevor, she came back to the track, reconciled to the fact that for today a medal would be beyond her grasp. However, she said she still wanted to compete.
Lining up for the long jump, half an hour later, she achieved a jump of 4.92m - taking off well behind the board in each of her three jumps - and placing her in 7th. The day was not going well.
Amelia then decided to enter the shot put, but to withdraw from the high jump and 800m, as she knew her energy had been sapped and these would be lost causes, especially since a majority of her competitors were high-jump specialists. She threw three shots, the longest of which was 8.25m, a new Personal Best and allowing her to finish her day on a more positive note.
Making no excuses, but after a week which saw Bob in hospital and a girl at the children's school killed under a bus, maybe this event was a bridge too far ...
Everyone has bad days, and Amelia is determined to learn from hers. Mistakes made today will not be repeated and the outdoor season begins next month. Winter indoor training now turns to the Summer outdoor training for a busy 6-month season ahead.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Wandsworth Junior Sports Person of the Year 2006

Amelia and Anne attended the Wandsworth Sports Awards for 2006 ceremony at Wandsworth Town Hall on Tuesday night.

The setting and ceremony were very swish - cool lighting and music, snappy PowerPoint presentations of past Olympic Games, celebrity sports guests who live or perform in the Borough, together with many talented local sports people from all areas of sport - from athletics through the alphabet to volleyball. The competition was very strong - stories of young swimmers training 55km a day in the pool, training for some 16-18 hours a week; people overcoming diabilities to compete in their sport; teams reaching finals and goals which they had never before achieved.

There were presentations of trophies won in local competitions or the London Youth Games last summer, followed by the team and individual awards for Services to Sport, Coach of the Year, Team of the Year and Volunteer of the Year. These were presented around a table tennis display and a 'Question of Sport' in which previous Sports Awards winners, London 2012 potential competitors and Commonwealth and Olympic athletes answered questions put to them by members of the audience. Amelia was selected to ask two questions of Adrian Turner, an Olympic swimmer, who has just moved into the Borough and she appeared on the big screen with her microphone as she spoke!

Finally came the top awards: Junior Team of the Year, Team of the Year, Junior Sports Person of the Year and Sports Person of the Year. It was like the Oscars - nominees had short summaries of their achievements read out while their pictures appeared on the big screen behind the stage. Amelia was nominated by her club and her school for the Junior Sports Person of the Year award where she was up against another athlete, a cross-country runner, a tennis player, a bowls player and a footballer.

Then came the announcement. "And the winner is ... Amelia Richards." She won!! Even modest Amelia could not contain her obvious pleasure and pride in winning this award. She was grinning broadly as she mounted the stage and received her trophy from Councillor Rosemary Torrington, Deputy Chairman for the Borough's Environment and Leisure Committee. Amelia's trophy was a silver champagne-style fluted trophy which is engraved with her name and which she holds for the year. She also received a silver salver engraved with details of her award which she can keep. As a part of the award, Amelia has been given a £100 grant to help with the expenses she incurs in travelling to competitions and buying spikes and kit.
A real boost to the end of a busy indoor season and a challenge for the upcoming outdoor season to see if Amelia can now match this success with a nomination for the Sports Person of the Year 2007 award next Spring.

Friday, 9 March 2007

Surrey County Athletic Award

Amelia received a letter today from the Surrey County Athletic Association asking her to attend an Awards Evening on 16 March. She is to be presented with a plaque for the Best Performance by an Under 15 Girl in the County Indoor Championships. She was selected for her three Gold medal winning performances last Sunday (see blog below).
Unfortunately, Amelia will be in Manchester that night preparing for her UK Combined Events Indoor Championship, so the award will be collected for her and passed on at a later date.
About those plans for the Trophy Room Extension ... !

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Tom's Cross-Country

Tom represented our Borough of Wandsworth in the London Schools' Inter-Borough Cross-Country Championship which took place today.
Although he has recently moved up into the Under 15 Boys age group (despite being still 12, they take your age as at 31 August in the current year), Tom managed to come home 47th which is very impressive. Even more so when you know that he was suffering from a sore hip after a fall yesterday.
Well done, Tom!

Amelia's Day with Daley

Amelia, her coach John and Anne visited Lee Valley Indoor Arena today for a seminar led by Daley Thompson for "some of the best school-age athletes in the country." The athletes were all medal winners from the English Schools' Athletic Association Championship last summer, and the event was sponsored (as was the championship) by Sainsbury's.

The day started with a group photo and some warming up, followed by a really tough 'Strength and Conditioning' session led by Daley. The athletes were worked really hard but were still smiling at the end!

Then, after a light lunch, the seminar continued with a word from two of the recent stars of the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham: Phillips Idowu who jumped 17.56m in the triple jump to take Gold, and Jeanette Kwakye who went to 2nd on the all-time National rankings for 60m at the same meeting.

After a session on nutrition and then one on sports psychology and how to prepare for a competition (controlling nerves, etc), the athletes had a Q&A session from Daley.

The event finished with an individual photo of each athlete with Daley Thompson which will be printed and signed before being sent out.

Although tired, Amelia got a lot out of the day and made some new friends in the athletics world.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Surrey County Champion x 3 !

In her penultimate indoor championship of the season, Amelia stepped up to the plate (isn't that baseball?) and triumphed in the Surrey County Championships with a Gold medal in the 60m sprint (after winning her heat and semi-final), followed by a Gold medal in the long jump (leading from the first round to the end).

Her third and final Gold medal came in a completely new event for her - triple-jump (the hop, skip and a jump one). There weren't enough competitors in the U15 age group, so she competed with the U17 women and still managed to win with a Personal Best (PB) of 10.40 metres - not bad for a beginner. Measure that out in your garden or your hallway - it's quite a jump!

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Family News

Just a quick update on our family news in general.
Bob is away in Spain this week (until 11 March) with his friend Steve. They are exploring Andalucia by train, bus and taxi and sampling local foods and beers!
Anne is working five days a week for the next three weeks to cover for Rachel who is off to Sydney for a break. Anne works about five hours a day in an office in Putney as a 'Remote Secretary' to small businesses with no secretarial support or businesses who have an overflow of work. On 31 March she is off the Glasgow to take care of niece Izzie while Izzie's parents, Richard and Loddy, go skiing with Sam and Pip.
Amelia has just had her mock SATs and is figuring out her GCSE choices this term.
Tom is thinking of taking up pole vaulting, as well as spending copious hours on his X-Box 360, and also considering the possibility of his first hair-cut in two years!
Robert received his secondary school placing this week and has successfully got into Graveney School in Tooting, so he will be joining Amelia and Tom on the early buses in September!

London Mini-Games

Robert recently took part in an athletics competition between local Wandsworth schools (see below). On the strength of his performance there, he has been selected to represent Wandsworth in the London Mini-Games Training Squad. This Squad will train every Thursday for six weeks when the final Squad will be chosen. If successful, Robert will train for another six weeks and compete for Wandsworth at Crystal Palace. The Mini-Games is the primary school competition which accompanies the London Youth Games for secondary school pupils. Amelia will compete this year, and possibly Tom, so keep your eyes open for further postings!

Friday, 2 March 2007

UK Championships in Birmingham

Amelia competed on the 24th of February in the UK Championships in Birmingham's National Indoor Arena. Having recently been used for a televised International and only one week before the European Championships, it was an impressive venue for the U20s Championships (previously known as the AAA UK Championships but now run under their new name of England Athletics).

Amelia tackled the Long Jump first, proving very consistent with nearly all her jumps in the 5m teens - six rounds of 5.13, 5.17, 5.09, 5.18, a no jump and 5.14. With ony five people left to jump in the final round, and having led all the way, Amelia's nearest rival pulled out a 5.30 jump - even the rival was shocked! So Amelia had secured herself quite a bit of air-time on the commentary and a UK Silver medal as well.

Then came the very competitive 60m sprints. With a huge field of 42 girls competing, there were five heats, two semi-finals and the final to get through. Amelia came third in her heat, the last of the five, with a time of 8.08s. Secure in a semi-final place as a fastest loser, she lined up against girls who had run sub-8 sec times in their heats. Amelia pulled a little extra out of the bag and clocked a fourth place in her semi with 8.00s dead - enough to get her into the final.

And so the final arrived at 6.45pm - a long day in an increasingly airless and stuffy arena, with a warm-up area in the basement seven flights of stairs beneath the arena.

Amelia lined up with the best athletes in the country for her 60m sprint final. Less than 8½ seconds later, it was over. Amelia had shot to the line in seventh place in a time of 8.02s.

What most of us had forgotten in the excitement was that Amelia was competing on a twisted ankle picked up in hurdling practice a week earlier. No complaints, no excuses. She performed brilliantly!

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Amelia's Winning Way !

Amelia took part in the Celtic Cup in Cardiff this weekend. The Celtic Cup is an international meeting with teams from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. As well as the national teams, they hosted an invitational 60m race for the 16 fastest Under 17 women in Wales. Amelia, although only an Under 15 girl, was one of fastest, so she was invited to take part. The 16 runners were split into two teams, one sponsored by Swalec (South Wales Elecricity), the other by Spar Supermarkets. Amelia was on the Spar team with her arch-rival from the previous week, Hannah Thomas (also an Under 15), on the Swalec team.

There were two heats, with 8 runners in each heat from the same team. The top 4 runners in each heat (ie from each team) went through to the Final. Hannah was third in the Swalec heat, after Claire Williams and Sarah Dacey, both posting particularly good times, so the pressure was on for Amelia to perform well in the Spar heat. Bursting from the blocks, she ran to victory in 8.12s. The scene was set for an exciting Final.

Amelia lined up with the others for the Final 60m sprint at 4pm. Less than 8 seconds later it was all over. Amelia's previous best time for 60m, achieved last weekend, of 8.03s was smashed when she shot past the finishing line in 7.91s - ahead of the rest of the field, including Hannah Thomas!

Needless to say, she is thrilled with having overcome the 'Hannah Hurdle' (!) and having chalked up her place as the fastest girl under 17 over 60m in Wales this year! She was awarded a engraved crystal bowl and a sweatshirt for her victory and can be seen locally beaming from ear to ear!

Monday, 29 January 2007

And Tom makes three ...

Tom moved into the limelight today when he competed in Year 8 - together with Amelia competing in Year 9 - in the London Schools Cross-Country Championship held at Parliament Hill in London. Both Tom and Amelia were representing the London Borough of Wandsworth through their school (Graveney).

Tom competed after Amelia's race, and came in a very respectable 38th out of about 200 runners. He was very pleased with the result, having sprinted past at least eight runners just before the finishing line.

Amelia, however, was involved in a small fiasco with her race. Graveney had not been entered correctly and, as Amelia's race was the first one to go, Graveney were not properly informed of the start! Amelia and some friends saw a group of girls running in the distance and realised this was their race! Stripping out of their tracksuits with lightning speed, they shot off and sprinted for most of the cross-country, although Amelia did slow to look after a friend who fell whilst trying to catch up. Not quite a medal-winning position - Amelia came in 128th! However, her two Sports Staff from the school protested about the organisation of the event and the unfair result, petitioning the Officials by telling them that Amelia would have done well in the race. They are requesting that she be allowed to represent London Schools at the English Schools Cross-Country Championships in any case, as she is easily up to the qualifying standard. We will let you know the outcome of this appeal when we get it!

Despite the mess-up with the entries and the races, we are very proud of the effort that Tom and Amelia put in today. Well done to both of them !

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Amelia's Welsh Silvers

Amelia took part in the Welsh Indoor Championships this weekend in Cardiff. The two events she entered were the Long Jump and the 60m sprint.

In the first event, her Long Jump, and after a confidence-building warm-up, she had four competitive jumps. She was the last in each round to jump, so she knew what her opposition was. Hannah Thomas, a regular adversary, managed a Championship record-smashing 5.15m (the record was 5.13m). Amelia looked relaxed as she got ready for the third of her four jumps and pulled a 5.14m jump out of the hat - her best performance at this event. Sadly her fourth jump didn't improve on that and she was pipped to Gold by 1cm. Always next year ...

An hour or so later Amelia ran her 60m heat (one of four) where the four winners and four fastest runners up would go through to the Final. Amelia's race featured Hannah Thomas again and with Hannah racing in at 8.12s for the 60m distance, Amelia managed a fantastic 8.16s to be the fastest runner up of all the heats (2nd overall including the slower winners of the other heats) - her previous best was 8.24s, so a good improvement on her Personal Best (PB).

Tensions were rising as the Final approached later that afternoon, as Amelia and Hannah knew they had to really pull a strong performance out of the hat. They lined up in lanes 9 and 7 respectively (lane 1 not being used). An outside lane like lane 9 is not a great draw, but nothing could change that. After a false start, the Final was away. Hannah had to give everything she had and equalled the Championship record of 8.02s. Amelia improved on her PB yet again, smashing it to get a photo-finishing 8.03s. Silver by 1/100th of a second!

One of Amelia's coaches, Trevor Marsay from Birmingham, came down to help Amelia in competition for the first time. He spotted her at the South of England Championship three weeks ago and was very impressed by her power and abilities. He approached us and asked if Amelia could join his multi-events sessions in Birmingham once a month. Trevor coaches Kelly Southerton, the GB International heptathlete. Amelia will continue with her club, Hercules Wimbledon, and coaching / training will continue with John Vernon and his wife Judy Vernon in Sutton, Surrey where they have fantastic facilities. John and Judy have coached Amelia since approaching us at the end of last season (October 2006) and have great credentials between them. John represented Team GB at triple jump and Judy won a Commonwealth Games Gold medal in 1974 in sprint hurdles. John coaches Amelia in Long Jump and Judy covers Hurdles, she has another coach called Dee for the High Jump and a mentor for the Shot called Michael Williams. Michael is 15 and already holds the world record for Shot for a 15 year old! And finally, for the pentathlon, Amelia is part of the Surrey Elite Athletes Squad who get training for sprints from Donovan Reid - he came 7th in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Not a bad set of backers!

Amelia is up against Hannah Thomas next weekend in the invitational Celtic Cup International Match in Cardiff - Amelia is on the Spar-sponsored Welsh team and Hannah is on the Swalec-sponsored Welsh team - two Under 15s running 'above age' in the U17 team! Let's see if Amelia can put paid to Hannah's winning streak once and for all!

In the meantime, we are really proud of Amelia for getting two PBs in Wales and two magnificent Welsh Silver medals.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Triumphant Robert !

Well! Robert has just returned home, the Victor!

He took part in the Small Schools Athletics Competition in Tooting today, competing against 9 other schools from the Borough of Wandsworth.

He won a Bronze medal in the Long Jump. He then went on to win his heat (1 of 20) for the 100m and clocked the fastest time in all the heats before winning the Final and picking up his first ever Gold medal.

Then he took part in a 2 x 100m/200m relay - the first person runs 100m and the second (Robert) runs 200m. Again, he picked up a Gold medal.

Finally, he ran the third leg in the 4 x 100m relay and the team came home to a victorious Gold - the third of the day for Robert!.

Not only did he win 3 Gold and 1 Bronze, but he was also talent-spotted and asked (with two others from his school) to run for Wandsworth Borough in the London Small Schools Athletics Competition (date to be confirmed).

When talking to Bob on the phone just now, he described himself as a "Mini Amelia" - maybe this is a glimpse of things to come! Watch this space ...

Welcome !

Welcome to our new Blog. We'll be posting family news, but this will predominantly be Amelia's, Tom's and Robert's athletics results, so you can keep up-to-date with their achievements throughout the season.

Amelia and Tom have done fantastically well up until now and I will be putting their past achievements up on this site later this week. Then I will post future dates and competitions so you can watch out for them.

Robert is starting his first proper season of competition today with the 'Wandsworth Small Schools Athletics Competition' in Tooting where he is representing his primary school, Sheringdale.

Keep checking back, our diary is packed and this blog will probably change on a weekly basis!

Anne, Bob, Amelia, Tom and Robert