Track is back

Dave Greenwood

12th Jun 2021

Track is back! Well almost as it is a reduced programme but nevertheless it's an important step in the right direction.

The last time a Sale team competed here was at the YDL Lower Finals when Sale were crowned National Champions for the third time in a decade. The track has changed colour too after it was re-laid last year.

I hope everyone will appreciate the efforts of coaches in keeping their athletes ticking over safely and after a year of a lack of competition it is remarkable that young athletes have maintained their abilities. If we remember all the concern there has been over children dropping behind at school and compare it this puts it into context. As always sensible and committed parents who look after and guide their children into positive activity will benefit. Not all children are that lucky which is why these clubs and their coaches should be supported. Self-congratulatory bit over I'm sure there will have been conversations about how difficult it has been for everyone during the last year. These athletes who competed could be the backbone of clubs in years to come.

Big thanks should go to Debbie Beresford and her team at Manchester Harriers in organising the competition so well. Sport City is a good venue which we are lucky to have in our area. Imagine if it rained. Teams were able to be accommodated in clearly marked seated areas, which offered shelter in case of rain but fortunately was not needed. Distancing was possible. Announcements over the speaker system were very clear; another bonus .Covid protocols were in place.

The structure of the league has put together clubs in areas of a region to reduce travel. It means that smaller clubs will noticeably struggle to fill all events which is why this event has a reduced timetable and pits smaller clubs against bigger clubs. Points and positions will be almost meaningless but for some the challenges are there and for young athletes to experience a big stadium of this quality is a good opportunity. As we know some of our international athletes started at smaller clubs which may not have had great facilities but they will have likely had one coach who was inspiring.

The usual report would have a string of names and their successes. Especially as at the time of writing results are not available and in the circumstances a brief summary will suffice. Sarah James was thrust into the role of single manager as experienced team leader Carl Worthington was self-isolating as he had been in contact with someone testing positive. Sarah has been part of a team before and coped admirably despite the odd late arrival and juggling getting everyone to their event on time. Steve Windebank helped out getting the boys to their events. Everything seemed cool and relaxed in the Sale section.

The sprinters had to face a strong challenge, from Bolton especially who are a good sprint club. Similarly in hurdles Bolton showed they have some good athletes in this event. Later in the middle distance events Sale pulled away from their rivals thanks to some solid performances. As usual all clubs struggle to fill the field events and some athletes showed their potential to be able to multi event at this level. Filling a berth brings points to the team when next year it matters. From some times that were given or recorded in the stands by experienced observers, the track seems quick at both short and middle distance.

Looking forward it may take some time to get back to where we were, just like the rest of society. The importance of developing athletes in the right way from an early age cannot be underestimated and Sale has a good history of this. Crossford Bridge and appropriate age group coaching remains important for the future and those considering coaching should speak to those with experience. There is no god given right to success for any club in any sport. Similarly with officials. Events cannot run without officials and although this event ran smoothly there is always a demand for officials and helpers. If you think you might be interested- speak to someone.

Thanks to coach Steve Windebank for his many selfless years of service. He is moving to the seaside soon therefore will not be able to continue his work which is very much appreciated. He will be missed as I'm sure he will miss coaching Sale athletes.

Sale won the event.

The next YDL Lower events are 17th July- Sport City and provisionally 4th September at Ashton Under Lyne.