North Norfolk Harriers youngsters finish fourth in national relay event
- Credit: Archant
North Norfolk Harriers AC were out in force in Birmingham at the weekend at the English National Road Relay Championships.
The youth athletics club sent its largest ever team to Sutton Park and were rewarded with some exceptional results.
The stand-out performance came from the U13-boys who, after last year's creditable 28th place finish, performed beyond expectations to claim fourth spot – just nine seconds from a podium finish and punching well above their weight against England's leading clubs.
Innes O'Malley led out the trio, producing the joint 10th fastest time of the day over the 3.88k course, before handing over to Brad Keay who gained two places and then to Henry Jonas who also ran brilliantly to battle past two more teams to give the Harriers their best ever result at the event.
There was a superb effort too from the Harriers' U13 boys B team which saw Archie Barker, Nathan Hutchings and Callum Wright finish as the 61st team.
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Abbi McCallum, alongside new club members Hattie Reynolds and Sophie McKee, competed well in their first crack on the big stage and, while still in the lower year of their U13 girls age-group, a 33rd place finish in a field of 65 was a solid achievement.
Billy Life and Oli O'Malley showed great character to compete in the U15 boys relay although they were unable to post a team result through being one team member short. Eliska Watling, despite running solo, was well placed at the end of the first leg and finished with a quicker time than a number of talented local U15 girls.
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'Eliska's steady improvement is hugely rewarding for her coaches,' said Harriers' chairman, Paul O'Malley, 'It was her first national competition and she rose to the challenge in impressive style. The same goes for some of our younger athletes; Abbi, Hattie, Sophie, Callum and Archie all saw top-level competition for the first time and they all performed brilliantly.
'We're all still buzzing after the outstanding performance from the U13 boys. It was fantastic to see the lads take on the best clubs in England and finish in front of most of them. The Harriers are going from strength-to-strength and, thanks to our sponsors Bakers & Larners, Byfords and Sowerbys we're able to continue our regular training sessions and deliver expert coaching to young athletes of all abilities.'