Gracie Wall stormed to a new U15 Pentathlon club record at Yeovil on 4th October, despite atrocious conditions of persistent heavy rain, strong winds and temperatures which were as low as nine degrees and never rose much above eleven degrees.
Having only started Pentathlon in 2019, the ESAA Junior high jump champion has trained for the past twelve months with a view to excelling at the ESAA Pentathlon Championships and earning an England Schools International vest. With all other pentathlons falling foul of the coronavirus, this was her only opportunity, and she made hay while the sun didn’t shine!
Gracie set three personal best performances, 11.78 seconds in the 75 m hurdles; a massive improvement of 28cm in the Long Jump (cutting the sand at exactly 5.00 metres); and an even bigger improvement nearly two metres in the shot (9.65m). Equally impressive however was the high jump, where she used all her experience to clear 1.66M (her best is 1.71m) in terrible conditions. Unsurprisingly, the wet and cold did their damage. She struggled to get round the 800m, crossing the line in 3:01.31.
Nevertheless, Gracie was delighted to have eclipsed the 26 year old record of Chloe Cozens with a total score of 2925 points, which ranks her 5th on the UK U15 pentathlon list to go with her number one ranking in high jump. She is looking forward to taking on the heptathlon, hopefully in better conditions, next year.
Stephen Simmons was the top ranked Octathlete of 2019, and had high hopes for 2020 before Coronavirus turned the athletics world upside down. With his training opportunities severely curtailed, and with only a single competitive race behind him this year, Stephen battled bravely against the elements to set personal bests in the long jump (6.66m), 100m, and the pole vault (a new event for him). The combination of sterilising agent and rain, made throwing shot, javelin and discus very difficult, but nevertheless he acquitted well himself well with a near pb in the javelin, and was pleased with a high jump, which at 1.75m, was only 5 cm below his lifetime best - a good achivement in such terrible conditions.
As with Gracie, the cold took its toll on Stephen in the closing events of each day (400m and 1500m). Understandably, given the difficulties of training, and the challenging conditions, Stephen's overall score of 6061 was a good deal lower than he was aiming for before lockdown hit. However, both Gracie and Stephen may have another Combined Event competition before the season ends, but if not then they will prepare to confront all weathers in 2021!
Results from Yeovil:
75m hurdles 11.78s
110 hurdles 14.92s
With thanks to Dennis Johnson for the reporting, and Richard Wall for the photos.