16-year-old Edgware schoolboy James Grant took time off from his GCSE revision to set a personal best of 3.80 metres in the pole vault at the UK Athletics Young Athletes League meeting at Windsor on Sunday May 20th. This achievement means that Grant, a student at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Elstree, has achieved the qualifying standard for the England Schools Championships, and is eligible for selection by Hertfordshire Schools.
In vaulting almost the full height of a double-decker bus, Grant won the competition by 70 cm. Multi-eventer Grant also won valuable points for his club Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers by winning the 'B' 100 metres hurdles event and competing in the Hammer and the 4 x 100 metres relay.
This all completed a successful fortnight for Grant, who on the previous weekend had won the Middlesex Under-17 pole vault title with a height of 3.70 metres.
Edgware all-rounder James Grant, 16, continues to fit in fine athletic performances between GCSE exams and revision. On Sunday 27th May, Grant won a bronze medal in the pole vault in the South of England Athletic Association Under-17 Championships at Ashford, equalling his personal best of 3.80 metres. He also came 5th in the 100m hurdles, with a new personal best of 15.20 seconds, and told JC Sport: "It was good to get a result over the hurdles because I've only been training for the event in the last few months."
Last Sunday Grant was in action again in the Young Athletes League meeting in Hendon, running the 400 metres hurdles in 61 seconds in his first attempt at the event. "It's a difficult event because you have to be able to take the hurdles with either leading leg, and I stuttered a bit out there. But my time was just a couple of seconds outside the English Schools' standard, and I am sure I can improve both my technique and my overall speed".
This weekend Grant competes in the pole vault in the Hertfordshire Schools' championships, and the following weekend he represents Hertfordshire in the Regional Multi Event (Octathlon) Championships.
Greater Manchester Athletics Championships
Two Jewish youngsters achieved fine victories in the Greater Manchester Athletics Championships on May 13th. Jennifer Simmons of Sale Harriers won the Under-17 300 metre Hurdles competition in 47.34 seconds, while in the Under-11 age group, Ellie Edwards of Bury AC won the 75 metres in 11.35 seconds and came second in the Long Jump with 3.32 metres.
A week after her Manchester victory, Simmons reduced her 300 metres hurdles best to 46.0, in winning a Young Athletes' League Northern Premier Division race in Hull. Then on the last weekend of May she came fifth in the North of England championships in 46.98 seconds.
Benaim races to new Personal Best
London-based Israeli Sagie Benaim, 16, sliced ten seconds off his personal best in his first race of the season over 1500 metres. Competing against older athletes in the Under-20 age group, Benaim came fourth in the Young Athletes League Premier Division race at Hendon on May 27th, in a time of 4:05.69. His performance helped his club Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers to victory against the other seven athletic clubs in the match.
Benaim told JC Sport: "I was very pleased to improve so much and I feel that there is still more to come. Another six seconds off my time would give me the Israeli Under-18 record, so that's quite a target for me."
On the other side of the Atlantic...
Adam Goucher, 32, has started a track season in which he hopes to gain a place in the American team for this summer's World Athletics Championships in Osaka. A fortnight ago he recorded a time of 3:37.13 in the 1500 metres at the Adidas Classic meeting in Carson, California, in placing fifth, just one second behind winner Nick Willis of New Zealand. The following week he moved up to his preferred distance of 5000 metres, coming 3rd in the "Road to Eugene" meeting in Oregon. Leading the field through the halfway point in 6:39, he finished in a time of 13:33.05, 13 seconds behind winner Juan Luis Barrios of Mexico.
The two truly world-class Jewish pole vaulters were both were in action over the last weekend in May. Jillian Schwartz, who represented the USA at the 2004 Olympics, recorded a height of 4.20 metres, coming 8th in the "Road to Eugene" meeting in Oregon. Israeli vaulter Aleksandr Averbukh, gold medallist at the last two European Championships, achieved a 5.50 metres clearance in coming 5th at the "World Athletics Tour" meeting at Hengelo in Holland, 20 cm behind American winner Jeff Hartwig.