WOKING youngsters acquitted themselves superbly in the South of England Athletic Association Championships, held at the Lee Valley arena in North London last weekend.

For many of them, the competition – for under-13s, under-15s and under-17s – was not only the biggest of their season but the biggest of their career.

Woking coaches Joe Holden and Craig Holder said the children performed magnificently and made them extremely proud.

The breezy conditions were unfavourable for the sprinters but helped the long jumpers to some great distances. 

Woking’s star of the weekend was John Hayes Akenzua.

He dominated the under-17 men’s long jump, with four out of six jumps further than those managed by the opposition. 

He started the first round with a personal-best jump of 6.52m, extended the lead in the fourth round with an outstanding winning leap of 6.66m, and concluded the competition with a brilliant jump of 6.62m.

The 6.66m leap not only moved him to ninth in the UK rankings but is also a club record, beating the previous best that was set in the early 1990s.

Holder said: “What is even more exciting is that John still has another year as an under-17 so could move even further up the rankings next season, with the prospect of more medals at championships.”

Woking picked up a second medal when Mia Mosko shone in the under-13 girls’ long jump. She leapt to a brilliant 4.77m in the fifth round. This was the same distance as the winning leap but she missed out on gold as her second-best jump was narrowly shorter than the champion’s. 

Holder said: “Winning the silver medal was still an outstanding performance in what was a high-class competition.”

Sahil Vassanjee leapt to three personal bests in the under-15 boys’ long jump.

His premier leap came in the first round – a very good jump of  5.72m that added 27cm to his previous best.

Holder said: “He was extremely unlucky not to reach the top eight, missing out by just 5cm, and getting three more jumps where he would have undoubtedly leapt further in what was a very exciting competition.”

Laura Kersley just missed out on a medal in the under-17 women’s long jump, finishing in fourth place with a leap of 5.03m.

On the track, personal bests were not possible for nearly all the athletes – not just Woking members – because of the head wind down the home straight.

Newcomer George Loader came through the under-15 boys’ 300m heats last Saturday and returned the next day to finish a narrow sixth in a club-record 38.07sec. Holder described Loader’s achievement as a great effort.

Eleanor Buckle ran extremely well to reach the under-15 girls’ 100m semi-final where she came sixth.

She was admirably backed  by Sara Louise Fordjour who, despite having a good run, was eliminated in the heats but stayed to support Buckle in her warm-up for the semi.

Vassanjee made it through to the semi in the under-15 boys’ equivalent, just missing out on a place in the final. 

Liam Trinidad showed great determination just to run in the under-17 men’s 200m after being ill for two weeks and still being on antibiotics.

Holder said: “He learnt a lot from the experience of running in a major championships for the first time.”

Woking will be in action on Saturday in the final Southern Athletics League Division One match of the season, at Kingston. Several Woking athletes will compete at the Kingston Open meeting on Sunday.