SUNDERLAND Schools suffered their worst ever performance in the boys’ events at the County Schools’ Cross Country Championships at Meadowfield on Saturday.
Only 12 athletes contested the four events on the programme out of a possible 32 and there were not enough in any event to claim a team finish.
Not one athlete has been selected for the Inter-County event, the prelude for selection for the English Schools’ Championships at Derby on March 16.
This is also a first for Sunderland, who once dominated the championships and provided a number of athletes who went onto to gain their England Schools international vests. They include David Clark (1990), Malcolm Hassan (1987/88) and Lee Browell (1988).
Sunderland, who compete under the Wearside banner, are by far the biggest area in the county and yet they had the least number of athletes competing.
Clearly there are major problems in the organisation in the Sunderland Schools’ Athletics Association. The city schools’ track and field championships are also well down on numbers.
Just six months after the glorious Olympics and the legacy that is supposed to have stimulated school children into sport and maybe cross country running, it has yet to take off in athletics in Sunderland schools.
On top of that, the government has been concerned about ensuring children take part in healthy and active lifestyles to ensure that levels of obesity are minimised – another reason to ask why participation numbers are at their lowest level?
There is little input from the city’s sport college, so if the schools’ athletics association has not the support or enthusiasm needed to organise schools’ athletics, why don’t they ask the local clubs for help?
On a brighter note, Wearside Schools won the team race in the intermediate girls’ event with Sophie Burnett winning the individual title.
The other counters were Danielle Elliott in fourth, Jessica Fox seventh, Merial Smithson eighth, Alex Pearson 12th and Anna Robinson 14th. Washington’s Barry Maskell won the senior boys’ race.