Max is National Champ!

Tynedale’s Max Pearson is English Schools 1500m Champion! Fantastic, Max!

English School Athletic Association (ESAA) Track and field championships
Alexander Stadium, Birmingham
11th and 12th July 2014

The English School Athletic Association annual track and field championships are not only the world’s largest annual athletic competition but also a fertile breeding ground for the champions of the future. Four of Tynedale talented crop of junior athletes gained selection for the Northumberland team at this prestigious event. Donning the red and yellow county colours at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium were Jonny Currie (senior boys 800m), Jack Colmer (intermediate boys triple jump), Eleanor Colmer (junior girls 75m hurdles) and Max Pearson (junior boys 1500m). Jack and Max have both excelled in school competitions this year in the colours of Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School, Jonny recently won his 9th county track and field title representing RGS Newcastle whilst Eleanor has been shining for Corbridge Middle School.

The event is held over two days with most of the qualifying rounds on Friday and the finals on Saturday afternoon. First on the track was Jonny who despite being drawn in the fastest of four heats could not progress to the semi-finals. He shouldered much of the early pace before fading a little in the final quarter against faster opposition. Eleanor has had a terrific season thus far but was carrying a minor injury into the competition. Sadly she also struck the penultimate hurdle with some force and despite regaining her stride she finished a little outside her personal best and did not progress. Elder brother Jack rose to the occasion and with a prodigious leap of 12m 39cm he went near his personal best for 12th place.

Max Pearson went into the 1500m championship ranked in the top ten in the country. Indeed such has been his recent form that he could equally well have competed in the 800m event, where he briefly led the national rankings in early June. There were some who questioned his choice of event but he left no doubt as to his class in the qualifying rounds. Content to follow the slow pace in the early stages he took control of the race with two laps to go and a blistering final 200m secured comfortable qualification.

The final was scheduled for just before 3pm on the Saturday and in the tense minutes leading up to the starter’s gun Max was a picture of concentration. Under the watchful eye of award-winning coach Peter Venus, Max has been put through his paces in recent weeks with training session individually tailored to deal with the effort of a tough heat and final on consecutive days.

As expected the race started briskly with the others perhaps aware of Max’s power in a sprint finish and determined to run it out of him with a fast pace from the gun. Nonetheless Max showed great maturity of judgment and resolve to hold his position just behind the leaders. The pace quickened as the bell approached and Max readied to strike. Entering the back straight he moved into second and then with the cheers of the large Northumberland contingent ringing in his ears he struck for home with 250m to go. Such was the injection of pace that he quickly opened a 10m gap that he held to the finish. Crossing the line with his usual flourish he stopped the clock in a huge new personal best of 4m 06.50s.

With barely a moment to catch his breath, shake hands with the other runners or to share in the congratulations of his family and team-mates Max was whisked off by the event broadcasters for his first (but surely not his last) post-race interview in the mixed zone. Then it was time for the medal ceremony and a photo call with his proud family and coach and an opportunity to reflect not only on the enormity of his achievement but also on the manner of its execution.

Alan Currie

Max’s awesome race is at 4.49 in video (you need to create log-in) http://www.vincosport.com/videos/9076

Full results here: http://www.esaa.net/v2/2014/tf/national/results/results.php?age=jb&fname=1500-f

Shown here with coach Peter Venus, who’s been putting in extra hours with Max in the last few weeks.

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