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Burton athletes compete in schools' championships

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 19, 2014

SCHOOL TRIP ... four Burton athletes competed at the  English Schools'  Championships in Birmingham. From left: Jack Simpson, Rebecca Sheffield, Gemma Holland, Callum Abberley

SCHOOL TRIP ... four Burton athletes competed at the English Schools' Championships in Birmingham. From left: Jack Simpson, Rebecca Sheffield, Gemma Holland, Callum Abberley

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BURTON Athletic Club had four of their athletes on show at the English Schools' Track and Field Championships at Birmingham's Alexander Stadium.

Although some may remember the days when the area regularly produced more, the stringent qualifying standards of the last few decades have made any selection at all a rarity.

More encouraging still was the fact that two of the four will still be in their respective age group next year.

One of these, representing Staffordshire, was Callum Abberley, who did so well at cross country last winter where he was ranked eighth in Britain.

Now against older boys over a shorter distance, he was far from disgraced in his junior 1500m heat (10th, 4.26.59). Five seconds quicker would have qualified him for the final and he was probably the fastest in his own year.

Also a Staffordshire junior next year was Rebecca Sheffield in the 75m hurdles. In her heat she appeared to be running to form, in a qualifying position, when she clipped the sixth hurdle and lost her rhythm. She still finished fifth.

Leicestershire's Gemma Holland went with previous experience, but that was in the intermediate shot put.

She could have done that again but decided on her natural event, the hammer. In the first of two pools she was 80cm from qualifying for the final with 41.20m – not bad considering she had hardly touched the hammer for a year.

Jack Simpson (Staffs, Junior Boys) was expected to have the best local chance of reaching a final as he was ranked eighth in Britain at 800m.

He was in the first of three heats with two from each to qualify with the two fastest losers. Appearing to have a good chance towards the end, he was narrowly beaten into third at the line.

However, his luck turned as every runner from the later heats was slower than Simpson's time of 2.02.9.

In the final, with much contact and stumbling, he faded to eighth – nevertheless an excellent result.

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9 comments

  • mattlong  |  July 23 2014, 4:27PM

    Thanks to the Mail for removing the abusive comment made about me and to England Athletics for looking into this.

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  • MattBenfield  |  July 22 2014, 4:48PM

    Come on Matt, Callum Aberley had fantastic coverage in the mail through out the winter for his exploits in the cross country season. It is brilliant what the Burton AC athletes have achieved this season in the track and field, they really have broke into the ranks at national level this summer and we are seeing this now being reported and supported by the mail. We are proud of them all and have a really good pool of talent at the club now in both track and field events. The growing numbers of members at the club really is a positive for us and credit must be given to the athletes and parents who we see regularly at our training sessions putting in effort to ensure they continue to perform to the best of their abilities and hopefully fulfil their potential. I would also like to congratulate all of the athletes, coaches, parents and helpers at the club keeping in supporting youngsters of all abilities achieve there own goals and targets. Well Done Burton AC.

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  • mattlong  |  July 21 2014, 5:13PM

    If you are a parent or athlete reading this and interested in being coached read on... Whether you are in a local club or not in a club if you would like any coach education advice free of charge please check out my coaching entry on UKA Power of 10. I have many articles which I can send you free of charge which may help you. I work for British Athletics as a Coach Education Tutor; am an editorial contributor with Athletics Weekly magazine having published 101 articles in the last 2 years; currently act as Editor of one of the country's top magazines for endurance running and last year won the British Milers Club award for coach education research. I have worked with regional to international level athletes under national coach mentor Bud Baldaro some of who are going to both the Commonwealth Games and European Championships this summer. Unfortunately my services locally have indeed been 'rejected' (see previous post) and I'm sincere about wanting to offer advice to any local athletes regardless of club or school affiliation. I am not a member of a local club nor do I wish to be as I have a different philosophy of coaching to some locally. Whilst most of my coaching is done in Birmingham or through the British Milers Club I'm sincere about wanting to help any local athletes progress. The one caveat to that is that if you are already coached I would speak to you only with the co-operation and content of your existing coach out of ethical consideration for them. If you would like a character reference from people in the most senior ranks of the sport who have coached at Olympic and world championship level who mentor and support me, one can be provided. If you are 16 or above please contact me at matt@mattlong.wanadoo.co.uk or alternatively this contact should be made through a parent or guardian. I have no problem if you are a member of an existing club and please don't swallow the myth which some who have blocked my involvement locally in the sport will feed you about needing to be coached by someone from the same club or school. Volunteer coaches like me can and do work with athletes from all over the country. Matt Long

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  • mattlong  |  July 21 2014, 4:41PM

    I'm sorry that the anonymous poster hasn't revealed an identity. My services were indeed rejected and thanks for making that clear in the post (yes several genuine offers have been rejected over the years) by the local athletics club and a running club in the town and honesty encourages me to acknowledge this made me bitter and affected my health for a while. This being said its good to see 4 young athletes from Burton representing their county who haven't always had a massive amount of publicity in the local press. All their coaches deserve much credit and especially Simon King for his work with Jack Simpson. A tremendous achievement to reach an English schools final. I have known Simon for a while when I myself coached at Tamworth AC and he does great work in the sport. It is a myth that you need to be a member of a club to coach athletes from that club and all credit to those coaches like Simon who think outside the proverbial box and are inclusive in the groups they coach, choosing to coach athletes from across clubs. Some coaches are unwilling to adopt this mentality and some clubs censure coaches who choose to try and operate with athletes across clubs as I did and now do in my work. I'm honoured anyone would even call me a 'supposedly top coach' -its made my day! On a serious note - whilst things didn't work out for me locally despite recent good faith attempts with to link an Academy with the local club after writing to then Chair Matt Benfield who declined to meet and discuss the idea, I'm happy in the sport which is what matters and I feel valued by the people I'm working with. Would love to see more young talented athletes being featured in the Mail as Athletics coverage used to get a double page spread in the days of Roland Gibbard. Always happy to discuss athletics with anyone in the town on 07983864114 or to have a genuine discussion about my perceived failings as a coach (which are never actually articulated) but certainly not prepared to engage in anything with an anonymous poster. I make no apology for wanting to bring some very famous athletes to Burton to meet young athletes, parents and school teachers. If anyone from any club locally has a problem with that well vote with your feet. Leave it to the athletes to decide whose coaching methods they appreciate and whose they don't.

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  • mattlong  |  July 21 2014, 4:12PM

    Yes unfortunately my coaching was not seen to have been of value at the local club. This being said I am keen to credit 4 young athletes who haven't received a lot of publicity in recent years and who have done well for the town. Wishing those athletes and the local clubs in Burton well.

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  • mattxxxl  |  July 21 2014, 1:42PM

    Good to see Matt Long supposedly top coach hasn't lost any of his bitterness or Jealousy at rejection

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  • mattlong  |  July 20 2014, 6:59PM

    Well done all 4 and all credit to Simon King from Tamworth AC who is a good coach and deserves credit for Jack Simpson reaching a national championship final.

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  • mattlong  |  July 20 2014, 6:57PM

    Great to see the performance side of the sport being reported as well as the fun and mass participation side with the Burton and District Summer League. All credit to 4 young athletes with bright futures. Well done to Jack Simpson on making a national championship final and all credit to his coach from Tamworth AC Jack Simpson who I have great respect for.

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  • mattlong  |  July 20 2014, 6:52PM

    Delighted to see the performance side of athletics being reported here as well as the fun and mass participation side of the sport with the Burton and District league. All credit to 4 local athletes with bright futures and Jack Simpson impresses me and all credit to Tamworth AC coach Simon King who I have great respect for.

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