The next generation of swimmers proved just how bright the future is with a slew of mesmerising performances on the penultimate day of the 2016 School Games.
Although the rest of Saturday’s action took place at Loughborough University, Ponds Forge in Sheffield hosted the swimming. And the Steel City clearly agreed with England South’s Jacob Peters as he broke the School Games record by holding off a charging Robbie Powell to defend his 100m butterfly title.
The 16-year-old made a lightning start as he built a commanding lead and, although he tired slightly in the latter stages, broke the record with a time of 56.24 seconds.
“I was not expecting such a fast time because it is so early in the season, and I am very happy to retain my title,” said Peters.
Powell did get a gold though as Ireland won the 4x200m relay in the evening session.
Elsewhere, England North’s Elizabeth Harris stormed to victory in the women’s 200m freestyle, while Scotland North and West’s Nikki Millar started the meet by winning the 400m individual medley.
In a thrilling women’s 50m freestyle, Wales’s Annaliese Beynon and England East’s Lilly Snell shared gold.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s Pavel Karnejenko was forced to wait anxiously before discovering he had won gold in the boys’ all-around gymnastics at the Loughborough Tennis Centre.
The 16-year-old was the last athlete to complete his floor routine and needed a score of 13.600 or more to make sure of victory.
Karnejenko managed that, scoring 13.800, to beat England’s Joe Cemlyn-Jones into second by just 0.200 points, and afterwards admitted he was far from certain of his triumph.
“I didn’t know if I had done enough to win it – I really wasn’t sure and it was quite nervy,” he said. “I feel amazing; it was a good performance.”
Peterborough’s Jake Jarman – who trains alongside Team GB’s double Olympic champion Louis Smith at Huntingdon Gymnastics Club – claimed bronze with an individual score of 79.950 to help England to the team gold. Scotland took silver and Wales bronze.
In the girls’ competition, 15-year-old Latalia Bevan, from Merthyr, clinched all-around gold for the second year running with a total of 52.900 while helping her Welsh squad defend their team artistic title from 12 months earlier.
Team-mate Maisie Methuen, 15 and from Pontypool, was second in the individual after three successive bronzes – with England’s Amelie Morgan, 13, winning the bronze on this occasion.
For the second day running the cycling was hampered by the adverse weather conditions but that didn’t prevent another fantastic day of racing.
And after four rounds on the uphill track, it was Eastern’s Ethan Vernon and Holly Hoy who claimed the respective boys’ and girls’ street sprint titles.
Vernon said: “It was great to come out with the win, especially as I didn’t get into the first corner first and normally whoever does that wins the race.
“Our performances during the School Games have been really good and it has been a good couple of days for our team.”
West Midlands go into the final day of racing on Sunday top of the overall team standings, with Wales second and Yorkshire third.
Elsewhere, the individual fencing medals were awarded with a pair of sudden death finishes the highlight – England’s Amy Home beating Scotland’s Mhairi McLaughlin 15-14 in the girls’ epee final and Caitlin Maxwell dramatically overcoming good friend Maria Chart by the same scoreline in the girls’ sabre.
England South East claimed the girls’ and disability team table tennis titles with England Midlands triumphing in the boys’ event, while seven more winners were crowned in the judo.
Elsewhere on campus there was action across a host of different sports, as athletes in hockey, rugby sevens, volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis all tried to secure places in finals to be contested on Sunday – the last day of action.
For all Saturday’s results, visit: http://results.2016schoolgames.com/results/