WILTSHIRE SCHOOLS CROSS COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIPS: Hayden wins a sprint finish
St Laurence School’s Alex Carter leaves his rivals trailing as he reaches the finishing line on his way to victory in the senior boys’ event at Grittleton House School on Saturday
TROWBRIDGE’S Hayden Atkins had a debut to remember at last Saturday’s Wiltshire Schools Championships at Grittleton House.
The 12-year-old became locked in a sprint finish for the minor boys gold medal with fellow Trowbridge pupil Jonah Veakins, from St Augustine’s.
But the John of Gaunt youngster triumphed by just two seconds to top the podium.
“It was going really well throughout the race and I was first,” said Atkins.
“When I came down to the last corner, (the marshall) said to go around the cones but I think I listened to him the wrong way and went off a bit – but I came back at the end.
“This was my first time and I wasn't really expecting to win so I need to have a bit more confidence in myself.”
Winsley middle-distance star Alex Carter made a strong comeback from a calf injury by winning the senior boys race in 24:30, 14 seconds clear of Will Christofi (Dauntseys) with Swindon New College student Clinton third as the trio finished a minute clear of the field.
St Laurence School student Carter said: “I’ve been injured for the past two-and-a-bit weeks and I'd only had physio on Tuesday and my first session on the Thursday so I didn't know how it was going to go.
“I had this knee problem so I wasn’t even sure I would finish the race on Saturday.
“But when I got in to it, I started slow and it felt fine. I just like to see where I'm at and it was good because Will beat me a few weeks ago.’’ The fact that the event had already been twice postponed due to the recent snow and ice certainly gave Carter a fighting chance after the knee injury he suffered when smashing his personal best over 3000m indoors at the start of last month.
He added: “It still wasn’t perfect during the race but it wasn’t too bad either and I got around though I will need further physio treatment.
“I was bottom age racing against the year above too, which is really good.”
Carter’s victory ensured that the powerful West Wiltshire squad enjoyed an impressive clean sweep of all the boys’ races.
In the intermediate girls race, Salisbury pupil Hermoine Seymour was the runaway winner but taking the silver medal was Corsham School’s Kirsty Stanley.
The 15-year-old, who lives in Corsham, admitted that she was targetting a gold medal but was still delighted to book her place at the English Schools Cross Country.
“I really wanted to get first – I've raced her (Seymour) eight times and I've always come second, which is a shame,” said Stanley.
“But the wind was against us for a lot of the way and I'm glad it's over and happy to go to nationals.”
In the intermediate boys race, Warminster School’s Oliver Shad topped the podium, with Harry Palmer from St Augustine’s finishing as runner-up.
In the medals table North Wiltshire and Salisbury finished joint top with seven individual medals each though in terms of quality West Wiltshire’s four golds rate higher.
North Wiltshire also finished top team with six medals including four golds.
PICTURE SPECIAL FROM THE CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THURSDAY'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES