Bennett seals Commonwealth place as Bates stars at English Schools for Harriers

Kettering Town Harrier Alice Bennett has been selected to represent England at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad & Tobago next month.
Kettering Town Harrier Alice Bennett has been picked for England for the Commonwealth Youth GamesKettering Town Harrier Alice Bennett has been picked for England for the Commonwealth Youth Games
Kettering Town Harrier Alice Bennett has been picked for England for the Commonwealth Youth Games

Bennett will compete in the 800m after setting a Commonwealth qualification time at the BMC Gold Standard at Birmingham University track on June 7.

Her effort also broke the Kettering U20 Women’s club record.

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Bennett has impressed the selectors with her times in her opening four races and her consistency over the past two years and now she has been rewarded with her first full international vest.

Alice Bates triumphed at the English Schools ChampionshipsAlice Bates triumphed at the English Schools Championships
Alice Bates triumphed at the English Schools Championships

Bennett, who is 17, will join the England athletics team who will be competing in the impressive 23,000 capacity Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

They will be going up against the very best athletes from the 56 member states of the Commonwealth between August 7 and 9.

And a delighted Bennett said: “I’m so excited for my first international race.

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“It’s going to be a great experience for me travelling with the team and meeting new people.

“I’m especially looking forward to racing competitors from different countries who I have never raced before.”

The call up is testament to the hard work Bennett has put in over many years and her long-time coach at Kettering Shane Smith added: “Alice is a super talented athlete and she works hard throughout the year in all weather, rarely missing a session. This is a reward for her dedication.

“She had a tough break not being selected for the GB U18 Juniors in early summer in 2022 despite having the qualification time and European ranking.

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“She shrugged this off and got back to training and won a silver medal at the season’s finale at the UK School Games in September, a sign of her resilience and commitment which will take her far in the sport.”

The Harriers have a proud record of producing athletes who compete on the national and international stage and Bennett joins fellow club colleagues and training partners Alice Bates and Emily Williams in representing her country as a full international.

Bates, meanwhile, fulfilled one of her childhood ambitions by winning the English Schools 1500m title with a superb display of championship running.

Bates, who was competing in only her second domestic championship, raised her game when it mattered most and followed in the footsteps of other Kettering Town Harriers athletes from the recent past who were crowned English Schools champions – Williams and Indienne King.

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Harriers have an outstanding track record at the prestigious event with medals won in the last eight English Schools Championships.

Bates’ campaign started in the heats as she finished just behind championship favourite Jess Bailey in a time of 4:33:00.

The final, held on the following day, set off at a modest pace but Bates decided to hit the front and take control of the race with two laps to go.

Bailey settled in behind her but Bates injected a significant surge of pace 100m out from the bell and then executed the final 500m to perfection as she romped home in 4:32:00 to take the gold ahead of Bailey (4:33:19).

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“I remember how much I wanted to win English Schools when I was younger and how much it meant to me back a few years, so to have it come into fruition is incredible, especially as this is my final year in school and my last chance to fulfil that goal,” Bates said.

“This is a special moment I will cherish.”

And coach Smith added: “I’m hugely impressed with the way Alice has approached the championship and executed her plan both in qualifying and in the final to perfection.

“She has been working on her pace this summer and her final 500m was truly excellent.

“Alice has been sacrificing much of her life over the past eight weeks in studying and sitting her A Levels.

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“She sets herself a very high bar in her academic work so we are now hoping she will be running stress free for the remaining part of the season.”

Junior Boy George Mills competed at English Schools for the first time and finished in 11th place in the javelin with a best throw of 41.98m while, competing for Somerset Schools, fellow Harrier Jemima Davey ran 4:46:52 in the 800m as she finished sixth in the third heat.