Posted: 17 September 2013
Article by: Sophie Warburton, RDO - West and UK School Games Team Manager
A team of 8 athletes (Stuart Balfour, Matthias Barnet, Andy Brown, Jack Carlin, Emma Borthwick, Rhona Callendar, Keira Johnston and Elena Melton) supported by Team Manager (Sophie Warburton) and Team Coach (Chris Soper) travelled down to Sheffield last Thursday for the 2013 Sainsbury’s School Games incorporating the Inter-Regional Road Championships. The Sainsbury’s School Games is a multi-sport event involving 1600 athletes representing Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland across 12 different sports.
The opening day of the cycling competition saw teams from the 10 English Regions, Wales, Scotland and Ulster, together with a VI para-cycling team on tandems, compete in street sprint and criterium events. The outstandingly close racing throughout the day showcased the strength and depth of talent we have in cycling with all teams having significantly raised the quality bar yet again. After a great effort from all the Scottish riders and some closely fought racing, Jack Carlin took gold in the street sprints – Scotland’s first ever medal at an inter-regional road championships. Adding to Scotland’s medal haul in the afternoon, Rhona Callendar took bronze in the girls criterium after a fantastic race with teammate Emma Borthwick where the girls demonstrated exactly what it means to ride as a team. A successful start to a weekend of racing – who said Friday 13th was unlucky?!
The second day of competition saw the event move out onto the open road with teams competing in Individual and Team Time Trials. Held over hilly and technically demanding terrain the events tested the riders all round ability. After some strong rides in the individual time trial both teams took to the course for the 12k team time trial. The girls finished in a fantastic 4th position, an impressive results in an incredibly strong field.
Held across the notoriously hilly Sheffield countryside – on the route of the 2014 Tour de France – the last day of the School Games / Inter-Regional Road Championship was always going to be tough. With 45mph winds, gusting higher on the exposed hill-tops, and driving horizontal rain thrown in for good measure, the road races proved to be the ultimate test of mind, body and soul. The girls team again displayed fantastic team work with Rhona Callendar and Emma Borthwick working hard to stay with the main bunch until the last lap to finish a fantastic 12 and 14th place respectively. Keira Johnston and Elena Melton also worked well together, protecting themselves from the wind and remaining in the front half of the race. With the wind picking up and rain intensifying for the boys race it was a tough and formidable 60km. Matthias Barnett came off in the early stages after a chain slip on the climb which resulted in abandoning the race a few laps in. Jack Carlin also pulled out in the early stages due to a mechanical. After only 5 laps, only Andy Brown and Stuart Balfour remained in the race from the Scotland team.
On the 8th lap with only 3 to go and after further deterioration in the weather Andy Brown was pulled, along with half the field. Andy had a great ride in difficult conditions and put in a brilliant effort. Stuart Balfour held his position in the main bunch until the final lap where an impressive breakaway resulted in Stuart narrowly missing out on a podium finish.
The final results of the Inter-Regional Road Championships saw Scotland finish 10th out 13 Regions. All 8 of the Scottish riders demonstrated brilliant team work, incredible talent and true determination in what was a high level of racing and some gruelling conditions. Well done to all the riders, you did Scotland proud!
Rhona and Jack