Report By Ronnie Bomba, Event Manager
In April this year, Liverpool Harriers & AC will promote the latest in a successful series of athletics meetings which offer something special: the focus is exclusively on Throws and Jumps.
It all began in 2004, when a group of field events coaches, together with parents of throwers and jumpers, decided that it was all too often a case of "You can't run well enough - how about trying a throwing event or doing some jumping?" Instead, they wanted field events to be viewed as an important part of the athletics scene, so they set their sights on letting field event athletes have a well-organised competition that would let them show just what they could achieve when given a positive and enthusiastic environment. That was the beginning of something special!
The initial meeting in September 2004 was an experiment, to see if the concept worked, and was limited to Hammer, Shot, Discus and Javelin. An excellent day's competition saw 36 athletes competing in 68 events, so the next one, in the following Spring, included the Jumps events too. This was to set the precedent for the series of competitions ever since. It has become an early chance to see the outcome of all the hard Winter training, as well as giving more time to fine tune the technical aspects, thus getting a flying start towards achieving that P.B., if not today then later in the season.
The word soon got around. Numbers grew each year, as did the quality of the performance. The A.A.A. recognised what was being achieved, especially in terms of encouraging the younger athletes. To help the meeting to grow, they provided Silver Salvers for a number of years, to those in the U15 and U17 who attained Grade I Standard. Today that motivation is continued by the award of impressive Glass Plaques, provided by the organisers.
But the meeting is not focused on prizes. The entire day is about improving every athlete's performances. In 2010 over 115 athletes competed in 178 events. Scheduling all the long throws on one day, for so many age groups, presented quite a challenge, but it was accomplished smoothly. The enthusiasm and event knowledge of all the coaches and all the officials always produces a special feeling. When you add into this atmosphere the way that the experienced competitors encourage the up-and-coming youngsters, this all guarantees a day to remember!
All through the history of the meeting, since 2004, we have had the good fortune of seeing some excellent performances. One of the top events has been the Hammer, where we have seen stars such as Alex Smith and Mike Floyd (2nd and 3rd in the Commonwealth Games at Delhi) and Sophie Hitchon (who won at the World Junior Games with 66.01m). Others prominent athletes who have competed here include Peter Smith, James Bedford, Michael Bomba, Abbi Carter, Ashley Gilder, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Susan Moncrieff. If you look at the past results on the "Power of 10" web site, you will see there are lots more we could mention!
This year, with support from a local company and from national bodies, and with the 2012 London Olympics on the horizon, we hope to offer an even better test for all our competitors. Let's see these field athletes gaining ever more medals and glory!