The English Schools Championships is the highlight of many athletes’ season, and this year it was held in Birmingham.

By some measures it is the largest track and field meeting in the world and medals are highly prized by everyone.

Yate & District Athletic Club had ten of their young athletes selected to represent either Avon, Gloucestershire or Wiltshire. Three of those athletes achieved medals, so they and their coaches deserve mighty congratulations.

All athletics clubs depend on their coaches and the Yate club is lucky to have several truly excellent people looking after their youngsters. The four whose athletes competed in Birmingham are worthy of particular notice.

Jeremy Dale coaches high jump and two of the three high jumpers representing their counties came home with medals. Fiona Barkley jumped in the Junior Girls category, representing Gloucestershire. She conducted herself on the biggest stage she will ever have encountered with admirable aplomb and came away with a silver medal. Her final jump of 1.64m equalled her personal best and the club record.

Luke Ball was also experiencing English Schools for the first time, jumping in the Junior Boys age group. The competition was keen with nine or ten boys still clear as the bar approached Luke’s personal best. In particular, a boy from London seemed to be clearing the bar with alarming ease. 1.84 metres is higher than Luke’s previous best but here he cleared it on the third attempt. But he was not the only one, and in those circumstances the judges have to go to what is referred to as ‘count-back’. This adds up the number of failed attempts throughout the competition and rewards those with fewest. In this case, it was Luke, who was delighted to take the bronze medal.

Matt Spicer’s hammer throwers have made names for themselves across the Midlands. Here they came up against the rest of the country. Toby Conibear, in the Inter Boys age group, was a picture of concentration as the big group of boys competed around him. But he is newly in this age group, competing against boys at least a year older than him. So a new personal best of 57.22m was a fine achievement and promises well for next year.

James Viner and Owen Merrett, who both competed for Wiltshire, have pushed each other all season. This time it was Owen who prevailed taking the bronze medal with a throw of 46.60m. James threw a personal best of 44.63 which was good enough for fifth place.

Sandra Woodman, the club’s sprints coach, had five athletes selected – four of them members of Yate & District. For three of them, Max Elliott, Isaac Cory and Nathaniel Mitchell, the experience of the biggest competition of their careers so far was its own reward. All three did themselves proud. Isaac and Nathaniel both posted personal best times – Isaac clocked 23.00 secs in the 200m, and Nathaniel 51.55 secs in the 400m.

The fourth Yate athlete, Dan Brooks, got into the final of the Senior Boys 100m with a good time of 10.95 secs, only tenths of a second off his personal best. In the final he couldn’t quite match that but was good enough for fifth place.

We also have to mention Hannah Hobbs, running in the Senior Girls 3000m. In a big, competitive field she forced her way in to fifth position. Her time of 9:53.57 was close to her personal best, delighting her coach Pat Gallagher.

Meanwhile, in Cardiff, David Thomas was competing in the Senior Welsh Championships, even though he is still only under-20. He too achieved a personal best jump of 1.88m – enough for a good fourth place.

The following day, the second Avon Track and Field League meeting took place at the WISE campus, which served to demonstrate that the best – indeed, the only – local venue for track and field athletics is at Yate Outdoor Sports Complex, currently being dug up before the compete redevelopment that is under way.