Six athletes from Hitchin Boys School flew to Split in Croatia to compete for England at the ISF World Schools Athletics Championships.
The Hertfordshire team were selected for the bi-annual championships after winning last year’s ESAA English Schools Track & Field Cup.
Nine hundred athletes and 250 coaches and officials from 29 countries across five continents took part in event.
Here is the diary of David Koffi, Freddie Reilly, Woody Garthwaite, Jean-Claude Aka, Will Lawler and Loui Barnes.
We arrive at Heathrow at 9am and have breakfast and meet the girls team from Coopers Coburn & Company School and the England Select athletes. We fly with British Airways to Croatia and transfer to our hotel in Split.
We travel to the track for training then lunch at the hotel before returning to Split early evening for the opening ceremony. The boys’ captains are part of the parade and the ceremony finishes with 900 athletes dancing in the middle of the track to Tina Turner’s Simply The Best.
Day one of competition with exciting and the sun is shining and the track and stands are packed with competitors and spectators. The day starts well with an amazing performance from the 1500m runners from Coopers Coburn who have three athletes in the top four. All of our team produce good performances and after day one Hitchin boys are fifth out of 29 athletes.
Day two of the competition starts with the 110m hurdles with both Jean-Claude Aka and Will Lawler running really well with both of them producing personal bests. The standard of some of the athletes is unbelievable to watch with 7.50m long jumps, 21 second 200m and 19m plus shot puts. Amazing stuff. The medley relay - 100m, 200m, 300m and 400m - almost produces a shock victory against a strong Brazilian team.
We travel to the beautiful town of Trogir for a cultural relay. All 29 countries are mixed into teams with each athlete running 400m. We are greeted with local dancers performing Croatian classical dance routines. In the afternoon we visit Split and each country runs a market stall giving out products and food relating to their country. English tea, postcards and badges relating to England proves very popular. We also have to perform a country dance routine on stage outside the beautiful split promenade in front of 2000 people.
In the morning we are invited to a BBQ hosted by one of the parents of the girls from Coopers Coburn who have hired a villa with a pool. In the evening we attend the closing ceremony and swap kit with athletes from other countries.
We travel home and most of us go straight to bed as we didn’t get much sleep over the last few nights. But don’t tell the teachers. Everybody has had an amazing time. It truly is a trip of a lifetime.