Reaching the Top

Barry Williams, the Commonwealth and British record-holder in the hammer, recalls not only the lessons he learnt from competing in English Schools’ competitions, but also the opportunities to show off an athlete’s progress up the pyramid which the badges of achievement provided.

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I did 3 personal bests out of four at ESAA Championships but made a mess of one and only came third. It cost me a Schools’ International and I told myself I would never ever allow myself to be so stupid again.

Image credit: Mark Shearman MBE – Athletics Images

I set an English Record in the 1972 Olympic Trials with five qualifying marks. My second best ever throw came in the Olympic Final and the next year I produced a Commonwealth and British Record in what was the most important competition of the year, the Europa Cup. So thank you ESAA for teaching me a lesson.

My little brain was thinking about the badges we got our mums to sew on our tracksuits – how intimidating was that at your first Schools’ Championships?!

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Later I got so many that I had them all down my arms. Merseyside Grammar Schools had big ones; they really filled the tracksuit. And, of course, they made it clear to all that you were a Grammar Boy. I’ve still got my trackie top.

Barry Williams
Commonwealth and British record-holder in the hammer