Athletics: Not a single Harlow athlete takes part in Year 7/8 Essex cross country champs

Sport / Sun 9th Feb 2020 pm29 01:35pm

A FEW weeks ago, the Essex Schools Cross Country Championships for Year 7 and 8 students took place near Upminster.

Just under 800 school pupils competed on what was, by all reports, a great festival of running.

Not a single Harlow school was represented.

Before you say, “kids these days, computers etc”, there were runners from every other area of Essex. Southend, Tendring, Thurrock, Colchester, Chelmsford, Epping Forest etc.

This article is not intended to point the finger at anyone. The point is to just say that it seems such a shame.

Harlow has a rich tradition of middle distance running. Seven years ago, Harlow AC’s Andrew Osagie made the final of the Olympic 800 metres on London 2012. In 1992, Harlow’s Noel Thatcher won gold in the 1500 metres at the Barcelona Paralympics (and four more). In the seventies, Richard Green ran a world best for 3000 metres whilst still at school. Toni Lattimore was English Schools Cross Country Champion. We could go on and on.

To be fair there are other sports thriving in Harlow schools. The St Mark’s Year 9 Rugby team have just got to the final of the Essex Cup (part of a great rugby renaissance in the town). Even in the last few weeks, trampolinists, gymnasts, swimmers and netball players from other schools have put in impressive performances. All the reports are on YourHarlow.

The day may be gone when you would see school cross country races in Harlow with pupils streaming across Latton Common or through Harlow Town Park.

There are plenty of adults out running. Harlow parkrun now gets over 400 participants each week.

Perhaps this is a time when the government need to give more support to PE Departments.

This article also recognises the sterling work done by Harlow Athletics Club with coaches such as Stephen Lott, who do so much. We also recognise coaches such as John Stow over at Woodford Green, who is achieving great things with individual Harlow middle distance runners such as Stewards Academy’s Danny Raymond and Henry Moore’s Autumn Le Chevalier-Jones.

We return to the original question of why every area in Essex can put a team forward and Harlow cannot?

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