National Youth Development League, National Final, Birmingham 2nd Sept


Team Name



Sale Harriers Manchester



Blackheath & Bromley Harriers



Southampton AC



Edinburgh AC



Swansea Harriers



Preston harriers



Havering AC



Cardiff Archers


Four club records fell as the club Under 13 and Under 15 squad came up against the best of Britain in the Youth Development League Final at Birmingham on Saturday. Twenty four medals and a host of personal bests in far from ideal conditions also saw the strong opposition bring out the best in club athletes.

Lola Kuponiyi’s brilliant season continued when she added a single centimetre to her club Under 15 shot record for a dominant victory and she also extended the club Under 15 hammer record for good measure, although back in sixth place.

Five days earlier Peter Brinton-Quinn had equalled the club Under 15 pole vault record at the Southend Open and he made it his own in a fine competition with the first 3m vault by a club U15 to take silver, as Reece Debenham equalled his best for bronze in the B string competition.  Peter also added gold in the B javelin, as Bradley James took silver in the A string competition.

The fourth club record fell in the 4 x 300m relay where the quartet of Kimathi Christie, Luka Zabulionis, Oliver Ray and Somto Okpalauko sliced over five seconds off the club best but finished fifth on the day.  Somto had earlier won individual bronze in a fraction outside his best in the 300m B race.

Oliver Yexley won double gold in the Under 13 boys’ events. The UK Number 1 javelin thrower remains undefeated in the event and he not only took javelin gold at Birmingham but also took the shot title too, with Patrick McLean-Tattan taking B string silver in a new PB to add to his PBs in the long jump and 800m.

Freya Higginbottom improved her best to take gold in the Under 13 girls’ long jump and also took silver in the high jump, as Uche Okpalauko won B in the B competition. The Under 15 discus duo of Alice Brown and Robyn Moody are no stranger to podium places and the National final saw both win medals, as Alice was runner up to English Schools’ champion Anna Merritt for silver while Robyn took the B title, also adding silver in the B shot. Adelaide Thatcher-Gray won silver in the B javelin. More throws success came in the Under 15 boys’ events as Phil Okoh claimed B string discus gold, while Ejiro Akpotor won bronze medals in both A string discus and shot competitions.

Medals were hard to come by on the track but Matthew Blacklock and Shane Hart both won silver in the Under 13 1500m, and Charlie Black’s PB added silver in the 200m B race. Jacob Blanc just missed out on Under 13 gold in a photo finish but took silver in a new career best, while Paris King won bronze in the girl’s B string equivalent.  Poppy Ellis was close to her best in winning bronze in the Under 15 girls’ 300m to complete the club’s 24 medal tally on the national stage as many others added personal best outside the medal placings.

Club spokesman Tony Benton was full of praise for the club’s squad. “It was a great achievement to make this prestigious final, the first time we’ve qualified for a Youth Development League final, and the first National final by a club team since the 2005 National Junior League Final. The superb organisation gave the athletes the a taste of what to expect at National events and they will only benefit from gaining such top class experience. Well done to all our athletes, their volunteer team managers and parents who gave great support on the day”.


Link to club results

CLUB Records:

U15G:SP Lola Kuponiyi 12.94m; HT: Lola Kuponiyi 26.15m; U15B:PV Peter Brinton-Quinn 3.00m; 4x300m Relay: Kimathi Christie, Lukas Zabulionis, Oliver Ray, Somto Okpalauko 2m 42.65s



U15B: Phil Okoh DT B; Peter Brinton-Quinn JT B; U13B Oliver Yexley JT & SP; U15G: Lola Kuponiyi SP; Robyn Moody B DT; U13G: Freya Higginbottom LJ ; Uche Okpalauko B HJ


U15B: Peter Brinton-Quinn PV; Bradley James JT; U13B: Matthew Blacklock 1500; Jacob Blanc 75mH; Charlie Black B 200m; Shane Hart 1500m B; Patrick Tattan-Mclean SP; U15G: Alice Brown DT; Robyn Moody B SP; Adelaide Thatcher-Gray B JT; U13G: Freya Higginbottom HJ


U15B Ejiro Akpotor SP & DT; Somto Okpalauko B 300m; Reece Debenham B PV; U15G: Poppy Ellis 300m; U13G: Paris King B 70m Hurdles

Link to club results

Photos Maureen Okpalauko, Nicole Blanc, Jerry Canty, Clare Debenham, Charlie Yexley, Florence Okoro