On Friday 8th June 2018 9 adults & 43 Army Cadet Force (ACF) cadets made their way across country for an overnight stay at Beckingham training camp in order to be refreshed for the National Athletics championships the following morning to be held in Grantham at the South Kesteven Sports Stadium. In true national event style adults were sat around plotting and re-plotting the best strategies to give them the best performance potential for the big day. Usually means a late finish and lots of paperwork for the adults!
The big day arrives and the cadets are briefed on which event(s) they have been selected for – some end up doing events they haven’t even heard of due to last minute dropouts and the requirement to fill the voids. We jump in the minibuses and make the 40 minute journey to the stadium, the cadets aim to get the best seats on the balcony and attach their competitor numbers to their tops. The adults have their last safety brief and the competition commences at around 10:30.
There are 10 regions across the UK and eight have turned up this time – no teams from Northern Ireland or the North West. Once the races start the day flies past, the top three places announced after each track event and the medals are then presented on the podium by various dignitaries. The pride you feel when one of your own cadets is being presented a medal and the icing on the cake when it’s a gold!
The competition goes on until around 16:30. Field event medals are awarded in between races and the day reaches its climax when the relays take place and the plethora of medals to dish out in such a short space of time. There were some fantastic athletes participating and some of those were from the West Midlands.
At the end of a long and fiercely fought competition the overall results were announced by the current National Sports Adviser – Major Phil Hyde from the North East; firstly by each of the six classes and then the overall champions. All wait with baited breath as third, second and first are announced in each class – West Midlands ends up with three second places so must be in with a chance but alas at the crunch time everyone’s nemesis – Eastern – collect the spoils – again!
However, despite being pipped into second place it’s our best ever result and one of which we are all justifiably proud – our cadets have done INCREDIBLY well. We came back with no less than eight National Champions and a multitude of Silver and Bronze medals to boot.