Banbridge Academy had good representation at the Ulster Schools’ Athletics Championships held at Antrim Stadium on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 May. The star turn from the Academy was, once again, Intermediate 3000m runner Bethany Nixon, who raced superbly on the Friday evening to claim a storming Gold medal and the title of Ulster Schools’ Champion to go alongside her Cross Country Gold from earlier in the year. It was a really strong performance from Bethany who took the lead early on and just powered away from all the opposition to win by some 19 seconds from her nearest rival.
The other medallist from the Academy was Year 8 shot putter, Ryan Hanna, who threw really well to win a Bronze medal. Ryan had also qualified for the Ulster’s in the 100m and in his heat he ran well to finish 4th just missing out on qualification for the final by tenths of a second. In the Inter 800m, Marcus McNeill had another great race to finish in 4th position and lower his own school record with a time of 2 mins 2.62 seconds. Marcus has now taken some 14 seconds off the old school record for the 800m.
Clara Cunningham debuted at the Ulster’s this year in the Mini Girls’ High Jump and she competed well to finish in 7th position in this very competitive event. Natalie Hale was another double qualifier. In her 100m heat, she finished strongly but missed out on qualification for the final, while in the Discus she threw well to finish in 8th place. Intermediate girl, Ruby McNiff, also ran at the Ulster’s for the first time in the 3000m and she battled strongly to finish in 8th place in a gruelling and competitive race.
Ben Bradshaw, who competed at the Shot last year, showed his versatility this year by qualifying in the intermediate Javelin. Ben threw well to finish in a very respectable 8th position. Carolyn Grossman competed in the Junior Shot and again threw well to finish in 10th spot. Unfortunately, both our senior girl, Emily Cantley (Triple Jump and 800m), and junior boy, Simon Ferris (1500m), were unable to compete.
Well done to all the Academy athletes who qualified for these prestigious championships in the first place, never mind the excellent performances on the day. Bethany will now fly the flag for the Academy at the Irish Schools’ championship in Tollamore on Sat 1st June and if she can repeat her strong performances to date, there is every reason to be optimistic that she can push for a medal which would be just reward for all her hard work and training. Watch this space!