Bedford & County AC’s Stephen Simmons twice rescued his pentathlon from impending disaster on his schools international debut at Glasgow’s Emirates Indoor Arena on Saturday 30th November.
Slipping blocks resulted in a poor start and saw him hit the first hurdle. Despite recovering well, his time for the 60m hurdles of 8.39 seconds was well down on an expected sub eight second clocking and cost him a lot of points. A modest first round effort of 12.03 m in the shot was followed by two huge but fouled putts, where he fell out of the front of the circle, leaving him trailing in seventh place in a sixteen man field.
But the comeback was about to begin. A scintillating 200m in a time of 23.03 seconds on the tight banked track was the second fastest of the day and moved him up the field, but disaster loomed again in the long jump.
Over the board on his first jump, Stephen adjusted his run up. Frustratingly it was not quite enough, and although his second jump was massive, he was millimetres into the plasticine again. Another no jump would have meant no points and out of the competition. Adjusting his run up again, Stephen showed his true character, nailing the centre of the board and cutting the sand at 6.53m, only 8 centimetres short of his lifetime best and the leading jump of the day. He was in contention again.
Now up to second place, he faced the 800m, the fifth event in a competition lasting only 4 hours. A determined run saw him finish with a personal best on 2m 11.03 seconds, enough to maintain his second place, with a score of 3565 points, and just 50 points down from the overall winner Alan Miley of Ireland.
In addition to his individual silver, Stephen led the England boys to team silver, again from a very strong Irish team.
Afterwards the Bedford School Sixth Form student commented. “I know that I could have definitely won, and had things gone differently, I would have done so, but they didn’t. Given where I was after the shot and again on a knife edge in the long jump, I have to be proud of how I came back. There are lessons for the future, but also the knowledge that I can come good even when some things go wrong.”