Cross-country festival set to end winter season in style
THE curtain comes down on the winter athletics season in Wales with a festival of cross-country running tomorrow at the National Trust-owned Dinefwr Park on the outskirts of Llandeilo.
This year is the one-year-in-four that Welsh Schools hosts the SIAB Schools' cross country international — the annual fixture which brings together the top eight runners, boys and girls, at junior (Years 8 & 9) and middle (Years 10 & 11) from English Schools, All-Ireland Schools, Scottish Schools and Wales's own emerging youngsters.
It is also the turn of Welsh Athletics to host the UK Home Countries International, a fixture which includes a four-race programme for senior and domestic under-20 athletes from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, with each country able to field teams of four, with three to score.
The programme will also include the annual Primary Schools' Inter County Match, at Years 5 & 6, between Dyfed and West Glamorgan.
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Saturday's timetable starts at 12 noon with the first of the two races at primary level.
The four SIAB Schools' races are the second element and the fixture concludes with the four Home Countries races.
Welsh Schools selected its eight teams following the National championships at Brecon last month and there are number of local runners competing.
In the junior boys, Dylan Lambropoulus of Gowerton and Elliot Lawrence St Joseph's fly the flag for Afan Nedd Tawe.
Olivia Gwynn (Bishopston, Afan Nedd Tawe), the 2012 middle champion, was ill and missed the Nationals but has been included in the squad of eight for the Intermediate Girls race along with Lara Phillipart (Olchfa).
Olivia's schoolmate Jac Hopkins, champion last year, runs in the Year 10 & 11 boys.
Jac has enjoyed an outstanding winter claiming Wales's Inter Schools senior title in November and, more recently, the UK CAU Inter Counties under-17 crown at Birmingham plus the McCain Cross Challenge title.
Seven of this squad are Year 11 pupils, with Aran Rees (Gwyr) the only Year 10 to gain selection.
This will be the 41st time that the SIAB Schools' international has been staged.
In that period, only three Welsh Schools' pupils, all from West Glamorgan or Afan Nedd Tawe, have won their races.
Colin Clarkson triumphed in the middle boys' race at Newtown in 1977, Debbie Crowley at junior level at Swansea in 1981, and Swansea's current world under-23 triathlon champion Non Stanford at junior in 2003 and middle in 2004.