By Scott Mills
After a season full of highs and lows, medals and personal bests, the 2017 track season had finally reached its end.
In a year which has seen athletes from our juniors right the way up to our seniors represent GB, win international medals and make stunning comebacks after being written off so many times in the past, it was time for the Wolfpack to sign off in style at Stoke Mandeville.
Throughout the 2017 campaign, we have seen head coach Jenny Archer MBE once again prove critics wrong through pure hard work and perseverance with her athletes, particularly at the ParaWorld Championships and the BWAA meet would be no different.
For a last track meet and not much at stake, many athletes could be forgiven for easing off or ‘skipping’ this meet but that was not the mentality Archer has drilled into her athletes.
Dressed in golden yellow tops with some of the great achievements their mentor David Weir CBE had achieved during his career, the Wolfpack proved they weren’t here to simply make up the numbers.
If there was ever a time to show the true togetherness and family atmosphere of the academy it was now.
Not only did they attend this track meet, but every single race the athletes participated in this season, the masses of families, friends, supporters, cyclists, coaches and helpers turned out in fine voice to cheer on the team- one of the huge reasons why this season has been a success.
And the day certainly did not disappoint.
Whilst of course there were some performances in which the athletes would have wished to do better, there were also some amazing performances which included several personal bests.
Leading by example, the team captain JohnBoy Smith recorded a new PB over the 200m, whilst James Freeman and Graham Spencer were also among the many athletes to get personal bests in a few of their races.
The academy were also well represented, with Dillon Labrooy, Mo Jomni, Graham Spencer, James Freeman, Olivia Gallagher, JohnBoy Smith, Eden Rainbow-Cooper, Matt Cooper, Morgan Woods and Mickey Bushell MBE all performing exceptionally well over the course of the day.
But with the last track race of the season, our inspiring and motivational head coach Jenny Archer and our hard working and talented girls captain Eden Rainbow-Cooper had a few words for the team.
”As the season has now ended, heres a little look on how our girls have done this year.
“Olivia and I have both had our GCSEs which have taken a toll on our training and our times however it has not stopped us from getting PBs.
“Olivia has improved so much this season in her pushing technique and mental attitude in racing.
“She is now much stronger and has been able to show this in competition. She has also learnt that she is racing herself and to not focus on others but rather just on herself.
“I believe this has helped her to improve her times and stay relaxed on race days. she has done amazing things this season and I know she will continue to do amazing things through out the winter and next season. I am so proud of you Olivia.
“As for me, I may not have trained a lot but when I have I gave it my all. I was so lucky to go to the juniors and although I did not medal I feel I did my best for the little training/preparation I had under my belt.
“I was lucky to get two PBs this season and I am looking to break them again next season.
“I cant wait to see what next season brings for, not only us girls, but everyone. Lets smash winter training and go into next season even stronger.”
Head coach, Jenny Archer MBE:
“I just want to say how proud I am of every athlete from the academy that competed at Stoke Mandeville today. You all did exceptionally well and I want to say a huge well done to you all as you were fantastic.
“I also want to thank all the parents, friends and other family members for their help and support throughout the season- you all deserve medals yourselves for the hard work support, help and dedication you have shown to the academy so thank you.
“Dave also wants to say a huge well done to everyone that competed today and that he is really proud of every single one of you. Well done to everyone involved but now we must push on and prepare well for next season and train hard throughout winter. Well done, proud of you all!”
So with another track season finally reaching its end, there is no rest for the Academy’s athletes as we now reflect upon the positives, the negatives and the areas we need to improve on next season.
With winter training on the horizon, the team will be working as hard as they can to make sure they comeback next season better than ever.