PHIL BUDD has paid tribute to the coaches at City of Portsmouth after the club saw an unprecedented number of athletes selected for the English Schools’ Track & Field Championships.
A total of 12 athletes booked their places in the team with two more as reserves and at least three former club members also competing.
Carter Clothier (100m, Bedales School), Tom Miller (110m hurdles, Portsmouth Grammar School), Kameron Duxbury (javelin, Crookhorn College) and Lachlan Wellington (3,000m, Cams Hill School) all secured selection.
Also named in the team are Holly Thurgood (75m hurdles, Bay House School), Sarah Hunt (shot, Swanmore College), Serena Vincent (shot, The Gregg School), Millie Cavanagh (javelin, Itchen Sixth Form College), Gaia Osborne (shot, St John’s College) and Heather Cubbage (discus, Springfield School).
Cams Hill School pupils Saffron Moore (800m) and Bobbie Davies (300m) complete the team, while Maddie Wilton and Sophie Laughton, of Churcher’s College, are reserves.
Chairman Budd believes it is the biggest contingent of City athletes be selected in his time at the club.
The competition starts today in Gateshead and continues tomorrow.
He said: ‘I cannot ever remember it being that high. In my day it was half a dozen maybe.
‘We’re talking since 1968 and I can’t remember anything since then being so good.
‘It’s down to the revamp in coaching, we got lots of coaches back involved again and parents qualified.
‘The coaching resources are the key, the athletes move on but the coaches are permanent.
‘We have a great bunch of kids and it is a great time to be an athlete in Portsmouth.’
Unfortunately, hurdler Miller, who would have been a potential medal contender, misses out through glandular fever.
City are also currently without some of their star athletes due to injury.
So the number could have been even greater.
Triple jumper Joshua Goble, 800m runner Evie Grice and her sister Maisie Grice, who is in the 1,500m steeplechase and attends Cams Hill School, are former City athletes in the team, along with 100m sprinter Ellie Hodgson.
Budd is confident City will pick up some medals from the championships which start today and continue tomorrow in Gateshead.
He added: ‘We have some nailed on certainties for medals but I’m not going to put any pressure on them.
‘Our throwers have been doing consistently well and we also have some surprise packages.
‘We have bottom year athletes who are going to be cracking. They may even medal this year.
‘Some of those are going to make finals and then anything can happen.
‘It’s great when they get the chance to go for the experience as bottom years.
‘They have the chance to go back the following year as well.’
The championships are high quality and attract big crowds to watch.
It’s probably the biggest stage most of the young athletes will compete on early in their careers.
Budd added: ‘Certainly for the younger athletes it is probably the highlight of the year.
‘There will be 2,000 athletes and there must be 4,000 people watching with mums, dads, grandparents and family members supporting.
‘As a young athlete you don’t get too many chances to compete in front of such a big crowd.’
With so much talent in the ranks the challenge then is to be able to keep the athletes as they get older and progress them into the senior team.
Budd added: ‘We have got really good coaches and the strength is across all the disciplines.
‘In the team we’ve got sprinters, middle distance runners, hurdlers, throwers.
‘The buzz around the club has been there for the past two or three years.
‘We’re going for our fourth consecutive promotion in the youth development league.
‘Our youngsters have done exceptionally well in that.
‘Recruitment is up and we want them to feed into the senior teams.’