THE climax of the youth development league season comes with the national final, at which teams from across Britain compete for the opportunity to represent the UK in Europe.

For the second year running, Team Avon, made up of athletes from Yate & District, Bristol and West, Team Bath and Mendip AC, qualified for the biggest event of the summer, having seen off the challenge from Wales. As befitting the climax of the year, medals were awarded for the first three finishers in each event.

This year it was held in Manchester, and a good contingent of Avon athletes made the trip. Team managers, Sandra Woodman and Lesley Nunn, were disappointed that several first choice athletes were unable for various reasons to join the team, but even so hopes were high.

Team Avon finished the day in third place, behind the two massive London teams, Shaftesbury Barnet and three times winners Blackheath and Bromley. Twenty-four Yate athletes were part of the team and came away with a total of twenty-three medals.

Leading the charge was Dan Brooks, who won both 100m and 200m. Both races were desperately tight. Dan’s time in the 100m of 10.73 secs was only just outside his personal best; and in the 200m he had to wait for the photo-finish to show that he had taken the decision from the Blackheath athlete by just six hundredths of a second.

In the last event of the match, Dan broke the habit of a lifetime by taking the final leg in the 4x400 relay. Short sprinters will usually do anything to avoid running more than two hundred metres. But Dan brought the team home with a sub-fifty second lap for a bronze medal. He has vowed never to do such a thing again.

In the under-20 3000m, Abdifataah Hasan won a thrilling race in which he and the Blackheath athlete took the lead from each other several times, but over the last lap the Yate boy held off the final challenge to win in 8:59.54 secs, less than half a second ahead of the other competitor. In the 800m, Hasan went again but was denied on the line by a different Blackheath runner.

Hannah Lewis has made the pole vault her speciality and she was delighted to take the gold medal in the under-17 women’s event. Her vault of 2.75m was just five centimetres short of her personal best, but well clear of the next best vaulter.

Jodie Dale took two medals: silver in the under-20 women’s javelin and bronze in the discus – a fine climax to her season.

Over the summer we have got used to seeing the Yate hammer throwers take top honours. And they were at it again here. Toby Conibear and Owen Merrett were both over twenty metres clear of any opposition: two golds. They were together again in the discus with Owen fourth in the A competition and Toby silver in the B. Toby completed the hat trick with a bronze in the shot putt backed up by James Viner, who took silver in the B.

There was more Yate interest in the under-17 women’s 800m, where Kate Howard took silver in an impressive time; and from Rosie Hamilton-James who completed a plucky bronze in the 3000m.