English School Athletics

The ESAA National Championships are the 4th largest athletics event in the World… staged each year. Organised entirely by volunteer teachers, the best athletes in each County in England are brought together to compete for the honour of being the best athlete in the Country at their event.

Entry to the event is by virtue of athletes being selected by County Team Managers to represent their County. This year a record number of 1930 entries were received, with 24 from Group D County Hereford and Worcestershire. Matthew Griffin was one of 4 athletes in Redditch to be selected – a huge honour for any young athlete.

Nearly all the UK Olympic Athletics team members have featured in the ESAA Championships in their school days.

Mrs K Pearson

Matt’s experience of the event

I first set my target of running in The English School’s Championships last August. I have spent all of last winter training which included sprint runs up the steps at the Lickey Hills sprint runs up the Sand dunes in Stourport on Severn, hill runs at the Waseley Hills and track runs twice a week in all weathers. I ended last season on a time of 12.8 seconds and to qualify for English Schools I needed to run 12.0s. The first time I ran Indoors I ran 11.93s; I was really happy as I now knew I could make the qualifying time outdoors; I ran the time another twice throughout the season.

I found out I was going to the English Schools championships via email the night after I had finished 3rd in The Mason Trophy.  About a week after we had a meeting at Worcester where I met all my teammates, my team manager, team captains and received my team hoodie. It was really nice to meet all the other competitors in my team – there were 24 of us selected to represent Hereford and Worcestershire.

On Thursday, 6 July I was dropped off at The Strathallen Hotel in Birmingham where I met up with the rest of my team.  We then had a Team meeting and went off to our rooms for the Evening to prepare ourselves for our events the next day. We had to get up at 6:30am and have breakfast to get on the coach and make our way to the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham by 8.30am. When we went Into the Stadium we were shown the area where we had to sit – This was our meeting point throughout the weekend, my hurdles race was at 11:04am so I went to warm up at about 9.30am.  My race preparation went well and I felt fine; I was called down to my pen about 10.45am so I could be ready to walk to the track.  My race went quite well although I was a little bit disappointed with my time even though I still managed to run a new personal best of 11.84 Seconds. I finished fourth in my heat missing out on the final by 2/10 of a second.  Later in the day I watched lots of really good athletes – the highlight for me was senior boys in the pole vault; this was amazing as all the crowd were getting involved and the boy who won broke the English schools record.

On the second day we had the Team Parade where all the teams gathered in the centre of the track. There were 46 Teams and just under 2000 competitors.

To compete in this competition has been amazing; to think I came 10th in the whole of England at 80 metre Hurdles makes me very proud.

I am now training to get ready for the Midland Championships and the England U15 Championships in August, then my Winter training will start all over again and hopefully I can qualify for next year‘s competition. I would like to say thank you to Paul Gripton who coaches me and my school for supporting me throughout this competition.

Matt Griffin (Year 9)