Star athletes Solly and Dunne fly Chichester flag at English schools

After missing out completely in 2020, the cream of English schools athletes will compete at their national championships, the highlight of the schools athletics calendar, in Manchester this weekend.

Maya Solly / Picture: Lee Hollyer
Maya Solly / Picture: Lee Hollyer

The one major change from previous years will be that each age group – senior, intermediate and junior – will be held over separate days to minimise contact and reduce the number of competitors on any one day.

Two Chichester Runners athletes will represent their respective counties with Bishop Luffa student Maya Solly competing for Sussex in the senior girls’ discus and Josh Dunne from Bohunt School representing Hampshire in the junior boys’ 1500m. With only the top 16 in the country accepted for the event, their efforts are all the more praiseworthy.

It follows two selection meetings in June, which also had a reduced number of competitors because of a higher-than-usual entry standard.

Josh Dunne

In the senior age group four local athletes were in action, all achieving success. Solly was head and shoulders ahead of the rest with a 37.11m best in the discus, a mark which she has since bettered to 38.93, ranking her fourth of those eligible to compete in Manchester

Brooklyn Santer-Smith of Chichester College was just pipped in the hammer by Worthing athlete Freya Brennand with both athletes in the UK top 35 and Santer-Smith having a season’s best of 37.76.

Another local thrower, Sam Spiby from Seaford College, was in the senior boys’ javelin and was rewarded with a winning throw of 37.48m in his first year as an under-20, having to throw the senior 800g implemen. That squeezed him inside the UK top 100.

The final senior in action was Dominic Barth, also of Bishop Luffa, who shaved another few tenths from his best to record a speedy 11.3 seconds for the 100m for a well-deserved third place.

In the intermediate age group there was a Chichester one-two in the 1500m with Harvey McGuiness from Bishop Luffa and Finlay Roberson (Midhurst Rother College) leading the field from the gun , with Roberson winning in 4.15 and McGuiness second with 4.21.

Both athletes have run faster since then.

Amelie McGurk was in action over the 300m to record 44.16sec, which she has obliterated since with a best of 43.32.

Joe McLarnon was in action in the Hampshire championships and did not disappoint in winning the intermediate boys’ 800m, just outside the two-minute barrier.

Four local athletes were in action in the junior age group with Dunne winning the 800m for Bohunt School in a relatively modest 2.07.

Dunne had already posted an English schools qualifying time of 2.04.5 which ensured his selection for Manchester.

Also at the Sussex schools meetings was Bourne Community College pupil Katherine Brook, rewarded with a new PB of 13.2 sec when fifth in the junior girls’ 75m hurdles.

Chichester Free School was represented by Lillie and Laila Hellyer in the junior girls’ 1500m with Lillie finishing in sixth place in 5.04 while twin sister Laila was two places further back in 5.07.