Are you a star of the future?
CHAMPIONS: We have launched a competition aimed at finding the champions of the future.It is a major initiative involving 12 schools and the search is already under way for the county's fittest male and female athletes.
By Mel Henderson
WE have launched a competition aimed at finding the champions of the future.
It is a major initiative involving 12 schools and the search is already under way for the county's fittest male and female athletes.
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Each school puts forward three boys and three girls, who then compete in a series of tests with the winning pair going through to the final.
Each round of the competition is staged at a different school, with the audience comprising pupils who watch the contestants being put through their paces.
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There are different disciplines that test strength, reaction, speed, mobility and endurance, and the tests are designed to identify those who have the best all-round athletic ability.
The heat winners receive a medal and a chance to join the final, where sponsorship cash of £2,000 and two Staffordshire silver-plated cups are up for grabs.
The first two schools to be featured were Thurleston High, coached by Miss Gibson, who has since moved on to Northgate, and Stoke High, whose coach was Mr Craze.
Thurleston's three boys were Elliot Ross, a member of the Great Britain cycle speedway squad; Luke Reid, an under-13 county footballer; and club footballer Ben Tawell.
The trio of girls were Kirsty Thorndyke, Ipswich Harriers and Suffolk county 800 metres champion; Niki Allen, member of the basketball team that took runners-up spot in the Millennium Games; and Lauren Jacobs, cycle speedway.
Elliot took top spot, with Ben second and Luke third, while Niki finished top girl, with Kirsty and Lauren second and third respectively.
Elliot has shown himself to be a superb athlete. Many of the Sports Performance Academy squad have commented on Elliot's character and see him as a true all-rounder who gives his all.
Ben knew it would be difficult to challenge Elliot, who had won earlier heats so convincingly, but he pushed him right to the end and finished just four points behind.
The Stoke High boys were Blair Hammond, who attends the Ipswich Town Academy and at 15 is already in their under-17 squad; Scott Wark, who also attends the Portman Road academy; and Billy Pryke, county footballer.
The girls who took part were Leverne Denton, a sprinter over 100 and 200 metres; Hannah Limerick, karate; and Rachel Garrard, football.
The Stoke event developed into a two-horse race between budding soccer stars Blair and Scott, nephew of ex-Town star John Wark.
There was nothing to separate the boys, both of whom have great athletic skills, and the contest ended in a draw – with Blair edging the sudden death point to win.
The Stoke pupils in the audience deserve a special mention because their vocal support brought out the best in the participants.