Big Oak Trees From Little Oak Trees Grow.

George Handy has been selected for England’s 32-man U20 Elite Player Squad for 2022 and he’s hoping to make his debut in February in the U20 6 Nations.
Zach McKenzie has been offered a scholarship at Forest Green Rovers FC based in Stroud.
This week we have the heartwarming tale of two of our athletes who joined the club in their primary school days and look well set to go on and achieve bigger and better things in football and rugby respectively.

There are also the latest update from the club regarding Covid restrictions at the track.

There’s a report on our ladies XC team in their recent fixture at Burton Dassett. We also have an initial draft of this year’s T&F fixtures across all age groups.

Good luck to those of you who are competing in this weekend’s Midland’s XC Championships in Mansfield and also to those of you who are helping out or competing in the NTRIX. Indeed good luck to any of you who are competing anywhere.

Take care

Best wishes

David Jones
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Zach on top of the podium.
George Hendy as an U13 and prize giving at KES.
Big Oak Trees From Little Acorns Grow

Report – Paul Bearman

It’s a well known fact that athletics is the base for all sporting activities, encompassing, speed, power, endurance, mobility and flexibility and so it is no surprise when these attributes help to enable some of our young athletes to excel at other sports.

Here are profiles of two our young athletes who have been selected to fulfil their potential in other sports at an elite level.

George Hendy, with his trademark shock of ginger hair has been a member of the club since his primary school days at the Croft.

He has always been a very good all-round sportsman, excelling at rugby and cricket as well as being a very fine athlete.

George continued to train at the club whilst playing cricket to district level and rugby at Shipston and at KES. He joined the Worcester Warriors U16 academy after being talent spotted but he was a very unhappy chap when they dropped him and oh what a mistake they made!

Undeterred, he continued training at the club and got stronger and faster and with the unwavering support of his family, George joined the U16 – 18 Northampton Saints Academy and has excelled. He graduated to their Senior Academy in 2021 and made his first team debut for Saints in November playing at full back and scored in his second match after “turning on the burners”.

By chance his parents were sitting next to the Saints chief exec who said they were very impressed with his speed. His mum told him that he had continued to do athletics for 10 years and that it has complimented his rugby.

Now studying Geography at Loughborough, after his impressive first season in the Saints senior squad, 19 year old George has been selected for England’s 32-man U20 Elite Player Squad for 2022 and he’s hoping to make his debut in February in the U20 6 Nations.

Modest George said after his selection “I’m very excited to be joining up with the best young rugby players in England and can’t wait to see how much further I can take it”.

16 year old Zach McKenzie is another of our longstanding athletes who have had the benefit of training with SUAAC through the age groups and this has enhanced his development of his other sporting love….. footy.

From his primary school days at Thomas Jolyffe it was obvious Zach was a natural athlete that has taken him to being a national level athlete, with Triple Jumping as his speciality.

Zach has been offered a scholarship at Forest Green Rovers FC based in Stroud. They are currently runaway leaders of EFL Division 2 and are odds on favourites for promotion.

The United Nations has recognised Forest Green as the world’s first carbon-neutral football club and they have been described by FIFA as the “greenest team in the world”. They have introduced many sustainability measures, including solar panels, electric car charging points, water recycling, an electric lawnmower, an organic pitch, and an entirely vegan menu for players and fans.

Zach will be playing full-time from September and although he will be undertaking a Sports Excellence Diploma, Zach has said he has plans to finish his A levels to ensure he has sound qualifications behind him after his football career is finished.

Having been involved with their coaching since their primary school days it has been wonderful watching them emerge from relatively quite shy kids into brilliant mature sportsmen with the world literally at their feet.

They are both incredibly hard workers and their families can also take enormous credit for the way they have raised and supported their boys, who’s hard work, determination to succeed and dedication have enabled them to get so far.

We wish them well, but before he goes to FGR Zach has the regional and national athletics championships to challenge for and represent the club in the summer.
Our 1st and 2nd female finishers – Georgie Campbell and Cadie Hibberd.

Midland Women’s Cross Country League

Division 1

Burton Dassett

15 Jan 22

Report – Vicky Sharpe.

Overall the ladies teams are performing excellently in the league and are currently 7th overall and 9th in the masters category (scoring the 2nd highest points in race 3)!

Although the risk of relegation is low, I would like to call on everyone to attend the final race whether you are completing the 4/4 or trying for the first time!

Like the men, the ladies were racing on Saturday 15th January at Burton Dassett – the HILLY country park.

While the heavy fog hid some of the hills from spectators, the runners certainly knew about them on the 3rd lap of the challenging course.

Continuing on from her excellent performance in December, Georgie Campbell (28:06) was the first home for Stratford and finished 9th in her age category as well.

Managing to keep both shoes attached to her feet Cadie Hibberd (29:21) finished second for the team with her parents providing their usual great team support despite the cold conditions.

Jess Sheppard (29:43) and Emmy Orton (29:44) worked together in a game of cat and mouse for fantastic finishes or 28th and 29th overall. Jess’ consistent racing currently places her 18th in age category for the league so far.

Emma Bexson (30:06) headed up the masters team finishing 24th overall, 10th master and her consistent performance places her 8th master in the league so far – fantastic.

Returning from injury in the last XC race, Vicky Sharpe (32:27) was pleased to be back racing and is currently 21st in her age category for the overall league.

Making significant gains to our team score was Emma Vickers (36:05), Emma Parkin (36:37) and Kim Lee (38:01) who battled through a strong field for top 50 masters finishes.

Sarah Dichard (38:27) and Susan Hunt (39:14) have shown great form over the season placing them 29th and 30th in their overall age categories respectively.

Pip Bell (40:50) had a great second XC race this season and was a pleasure to have in the tent as always.

Kate Sergent (44:51) finally persuaded her grandchildren to not be born on a XC day! It was great to have her back in the team.

Miranda Maloney (50:56) completed her first XC race ever – she was so excited that she tried to finish a lap early! Taking direction from the Stratford spectators she carried on in great spirit and was thoroughly cheered on by all when finishing… second time round!

Covid restrictions at the Track

As a part of our Duty of Care we have generally followed and in some cases exceeded the Government guidance/regulations over the last couple of years to protect all of our members to keep us all safe, but particularly our more vulnerable members.

The new Government guidance/regulations from today lifts most restrictions but with positive cases continuing at a high level in schools and thus into families and friendship groups, we are going to continue to follow the pragmatic guidance that has kept us generally safe during and after our training sessions.

In the case of the track users this has meant staying outside despite inclement weather. The Pavilion remains closed apart from extenuating and approved use and for using the toilet i.e. one inside the Pavilion at a time

The restrictions for meeting on club nights will continue as follows:-

  • If an athlete has Covid symptoms they must stay away from training. It is still a legal requirement for those with Covid to self-isolate for 10 days with the option to end self-isolation after 5 full days following two negative LFD tests.

Registration for juniors ……see plan below

  • Hand & equipment sanitising will continue
  • Maintain 1 metre minimum social distancing
  • It will not be a requirement to wear a face covering outdoors but it will remain to be a requirement to wear a mask in crowded and indoor spaces where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

This is the first draft of this year’s T&F fixtures across all age groups. It’s pretty accurate although things can change.
Winter Series
It was the latest of this season’s Winter Series races last Sunday.

I don’t have a report but please follow the link below for the results.

Many congratulations to Matt and Richard on their podium places.

If anyone would like to submit a report I would be really grateful. This could then be featured in the newsletter and submitted to the local press for possible inclusion.
And Finally
Henry Thomas was in the (un)fortunate position of having 2 coaches to guide him round the Welcombe Hills last Sunday. Asked by Nikki Hillard at the end of the season if the coaches merited 10/10, Henry thought long and hard before saying “I was thinking 7”. Thanks a lot Henry – we do our best !