INTERNATIONAL fixtures in the summer calendar has been coming up thick and fast over recent weeks, and the third of three International within two weeks went to Grangemouth Stadium, Scotland on Saturday for the 2018 staging of the Celtic Games International.
It was familiar territory for a large portion of the athletes competing having been involved at the SIAB Schools U17 International in mid July. Teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland were in action with a Welsh team full of experienced athletes and debutants having made the 940-mile road trip for the second time in quick succession.
The Celtic Games has been an annual fixture 1976 and the records lists for this event continues to be littered with Olympians, World Championship athletes and Commonwealth medallists.
At these Games, the under 16 athletes competed in selected events only, whilst there was a full track and field programme for the under 18 age group consisting of (100m, 200m, Sprint Hurdles, 400m, 400m Hurdles, 800m, 1500m, 3000m, Steeplechase, High Jump, Long Jump, Triple Jump, Javelin, Shot Put, Discus, Hammer Throw, Pole Vault, 4 x 100m & 4 x 400m)
The Welsh team, with more than 50 in their squad, were looking to improve on their 11 victories from the 2017 fixture in Dublin. This time round, eight victories were recorded with two Celtic Games records broken in addition, with both coming in the sprint hurdles events at the beginning of the programme. A large haul of medals and podium positions were also claimed and returned home.
Carmarthen Harriers AC was represented in no fewer than seven different disciplines for Team Wales over the weekend. Leading the team for the under 18 men was steeplechaser Ben Thomas, who was announced and honoured as one of the four team captains for the Games. It was great to see them all make new friendships with other athletes from the Welsh clubs. Three had already had experience of this competition having taken part in Ireland. In addition, three of the seven headed back up North only over a week since the SIAB Schools.
First to take to the start line was Iwan Glynn in his new event of 400m. In the under 18 boys’ invitation event, Glynn produced a strong run to finish in a new personal best time of 50.23 seconds and not too far behind the Scottish duo.
Staying with the track sprints, Alicia Samuel looked favourite to take victory and she did not disappoint. Running her third fastest time this summer, she stopped the clock on 12.11 seconds. Only a week after a tactical 800m race at the Welsh Athletics U20 International, it was more of the same for Iestyn Williams which saw all six athletes separated by only five seconds. Williams crossed in just over 2 minutes of 2:00:83.
European Youth U18 Finalist Ben Thomas was back in action in the UK this afternoon, running in the 2,000m steeplechase for under 18 men. Running alongside a Scottish athlete for the majority, it all came down to an exciting photo finish on the line with Thomas taking the runners up spot with a time of 6:14:56 in a blanket finish. Alicia Samuel helped Team Wales finish off on a high note, running the first leg of the 4 x 100m under 18 girls’ quartet who took victory in the sprint relay.
Moving on to the under 18 field disciplines, Lili Church was first in action at the high jump bed. She cleared the first four heights and as a result finished off with a best of 1.56m. Meanwhile, on the other side of the arena, Beca Roberts was back at the triple jump run up and again improved on her previous bests. Her 10.78 and 10.79 jumps in the opening rounds was improved in the sixth and final round, when she went out to 10.80m to secure a new personal best. The seventh and final athlete from the club to compete was Danielle Jones in the under 18 girls’ discus. Her throw of 34.51m in round 5 was enough to see her record a season best for 2018.
Club coach Delyth Brown was one of the eleven Welsh Team Managers for the 2018 Games alongside Stephen Bailey; Barry Edwards; Debbie Bull; Steve Boyles; Neil Wheeler; John Messum; Phil Warwicker; Edward Thompson; Matthew Rosser and Adrian Palmer.