Championships prove a happy hunting ground

Rebekah Nixon
Rebekah Nixon

The County Down district athletics championships proved a happy hunting ground for several Banbridge Academy pupils who qualified through to the Ulster Schools Finals when they were held recently at the refurbished Mary Peters Track in Belfast.

Five athletes, in seven events, and one relay team progressed through and the finest results were from gold medal winners Jamie Hill in the Inter shot, Rebekah Nixon in the Junior 800m and Patrick McNiff in the Junior 1500m.

Excellent performances all round from three very talented athletes and three new school records as well. But it didn’t stop there. Jamie also won silver in the Inter discus and Rebekah also doubled up winning silver in the Junior discus.

Other silver medallists were Ben Daly in the Inter 400m, Charlie Wright in the Junior high jump and the Junior boys relay team of Charlie Wright, Toby Baxter, Matthew McMinn and Andrew Mittonette.

All the athletes are looking forward to their Ulster experience and hopefully to good performances and maybe even Irish qualification.

Kudos went to the Banbridge Academy Junior Boys’ relay team who ran to a bronze Medal at the Ulster Athletics Championships, smashing the old school record by two and a half seconds.

The team of Toby Baxter, Charlie Wright, Andrew Mittonette and Matthew McMinn defied the miserable conditions and qualified 3rd in their heat before upping their performance and clinching their bronze in a nail-biting final.

Other Academy athletes also competed well albeit in the torrential rain which made life difficult for everyone. Patrick McNiff ran a new school record by some nine seconds in the Junior 1500m and clinched an excellent 5th place – all the more impressive as he has another year in this age category.

Ben Daly also ran to fifth place in the inter 400m as did Jamie Hill in the Senior Shot.

Jamie also placed 10th in the discus finding it hard to perform in the slippery condition. Charlie Wright, just prior to his relay exploits, had also finished a very creditable 5th place in the Junior High Jump.

Rebekah Nixon’s challenge in the 800m ended when her troubling hamstring injury, which has hampered her preparations for weeks, finally got the better of her mid-race and while she finished the race she was way below her usual standard. It was disappointing for such a talented athlete but a bit of rest should see her back to her best again soon.

Rebekah had also qualified in the Discus and here she placed a respectable 8th even with the injury troubling her.

It was a great day’s athletics despite the horrendous deluge of rain and all the athletes enjoyed their experience and will be the better for it.