With Year 6 in France and Year 4 having an ESB exam on the same day, it felt like something was telling us to stay away from the athletics championships at Stoke Mandeville this year. As a PE department we discussed it and decided it would be a good idea to give the Year 4 and 5s the opportunity to take part if we could work the logistics with the ESB. It would be a shame if we couldn’t go, especially as we were the reigning champions.
We knew we couldn’t win the championship again but it was important that we supported the event, performed to the best of our ability and congratulated the next school to win the trophy. “Who knows, maybe we could bring back a few medals, but more importantly, we would go to enjoy the day and the experience of competing” Mr Clark’s pep talk before we left in the morning.
With the Year 4s arriving just in time for their events, we were finally underway with the first race and the field events. With 28 teams present, the excitement around the stadium was electric, with athletes greeting friends from other schools.
The weather turned from overcast to blistering sunshine as we took some top positions in our events, it was clear that everyone was giving their best. The Relay heats were next and we knew how important these were, we had worked on the transitions over the last few weeks. The Year 5 boys were first and it was clear the training had paid off when we stormed ahead after the first transition. The second and third were the same resulting in us winning by a large margin. The Year 5 girls and Year 4 Boys were identical races with us winning by quite a way. The Year 4 girls however faced a tougher competition and came 2nd in the heats.
Just as the Relays finished, the heavens opened and the thunder and lightening started. That was it we thought as we all huddled under the school’s gazebo. The rest of the event would be called off and we would all be leaving without the finals running. Maybe they would base the results on heat times? Maybe they would invite us back for another day? Maybe Aidan could dry out on the bus after getting soaked through. Ten minutes later, Aidan and the track were both drying out and the finals were back on.
After coming 4th in the heats, Will SCB was in the final of the 600m, and came a very respectable 10th after chomping down half a chocolate bar and having to run with stitch. Jemma T missed the podium by one position after coming 4th in the Year 5 girls 600m final. Abi H also missed the podium by one position in the 75m final. Ollie L & Oakley D were both in the Year 5 600m final and picked up 2 well placed positions with 2nd and 4th.
The relay finals were last and we knew we stood a good chance after our heats. The same transitions with similar results. The Year 5 boys flew ahead of the others to take the gold, the Year 4 boys followed suit. The Year 5 girls looked like they were going to do the same only to be pipped at the post by one of the Thornton girls. Second place was a great position after Zahraa B had pulled a hamstring earlier in the day. The Year 4 girls followed the Year 5 girls and took the silver.
At this stage all of the Gateway pupils were so supportive of each other, recognising it had been a long day and that everyone had given their all to their performances. A fitting end that everyone was going to come away with medals, whether individual events or collectively as a team. As we all sat down in front of the podium, I could not feel prouder of how our pupils had performed and conducted themselves throughout the day.
As we sat there waiting for the medals to be given out, we couldn’t help but notice there were certain schools that were called up time and again to take podium places. They had performed well and we wondered who we would be handing the trophy over to this year. After all the medals were given it was time for the team results. The final announcements,
“In third place, Falcon School”,
“In second place, Rushmoor School”,
“In first place, the school that does not want to give the trophy back, GATEWAY SCHOOL”
Pupils, teachers, parents looked at each other in disbelief. Had we just heard right? We had won the championship?
Pupils were ecstatic and bursting with excitement as the words sunk in. What a fantastic surprise, and a great end to a great competition. So for the second year running Gateway pupils got on the podium to lift the trophy.
We found out later that scores were divided by the number of competitors in the team to ensure its fair.
Both Mrs Hughes and myself would like to thank the Year 4 teachers for their help with arrangements for the ESB, and thank you to the parents for their continued support with sport at Gateway School. We could not have done it without them.