From the very beginning in 1925, the championships have been described as the Schools’ Olympics. Have a look at our Road to Tokyo and Alumni Champions pages to find out how some of Britain’s best-known Olympians, both athletes and officials, learned their craft.
ESAA championships were initially hosted in London, then by different counties each year from 1931 to the turn of the millennium, when big stadia at Sheffield, Gateshead, Birmingham and Manchester became necessary. The experience of attending a championships starts the second athletes leave their front door.
The English Schools’ champs were a brilliant grounding for competing in international athletics. The crowds, the pressure, often staying away from home – are all experiences I had at a young age because of the English Schools’.
3000m Silver Medallist, 1984 Olympics
The ESAA inspired me to be the best I could be and to keep working towards my dreams, to me they were like the Olympics I watched on TV.
I never made the final but I loved every minute of them: the long bus journey, the timetable which was run to the minute, wondering who my hosts were, the nerve-wracking call room, the uniforms, the pennants which I proudly pinned to my bedroom wall and I would look at before falling asleep, vowing that one day it would be me who would have their name at the top of the results.
Jill Boltz née Hunter
10000m silver medallist 1990 Commonwealth Games