Follow Jonny Davies on his journey to make Tokyo 2020

Our International athlete, Jonny Davies, has agreed to share his journey with us as he aims to qualify for the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. This is the first of what will hopefully be a series of blog posts showing what it takes to be an international. Now over to Jonny:

Hey guys! 

I was invited to write a little blog for the club to document my journey to try and make the Tokyo Olympics for the 5000m. Hopefully, people may find at least some of what I say interesting and may give a little bit of insight on what it takes to make an Olympic games. I have a huge amount of affection for the club who gave me a pathway into the sport and allowed me to chase my dreams and seeing my athletic potential. The coaching I received by Rob Mckim and others, laid solid foundations and I still quiver with fear thinking of some of the brutal, yet carefully calculated sessions, I used to do around ‘The Stadium of  Dreams’- aka Palmer Park.  

I intended this first blog to be a little bit of an introduction to myself and my goals and potentially pave the way for future blogs.  For a little bit of context/background, I am a lifelong member of Reading AC and competed for the club throughout my school years and continue to do so today. I am a middle to long distance runner and have competed for Great Britain on a number of occasions, most recently at the world indoor championships in Birmingham, where I am currently based.  I studied Biology at the University of Birmingham for my undergraduate degree and am lucky enough to still be supported by the university as a graduate scholar. I also work part time within the Metallurgy and Materials department with an incredibly flexible job which I can work around my training and also allows me to train abroad when necessary. 

The Olympics is the pinnacle of our sport and the idea of being part of it is incredibly exciting but making the team is no easy feat. I narrowly missed out 3 years ago as a 21 year old to make the Rio team- running the qualifying time but suffering from injury and illness running into the trial and eventually falling just short. Since then my running career has taken a series of ups and downs with some incredible moments, such as winning two medals at the world student games in Taiwan, but also long term injuries and illness. The worst being an almost 6 month layoff with a back injury last winter- our sport is always an adventure!

As in life, athletics is a constant learning experience. I have made countless mistakes throughout my running career, but as long as you are able to learn the lessons and apply them in the future; you are already halfway there. I am hoping I have learnt from the past!  I currently have an amazing training group and team supporting me and feel in the best place possible for taking 10 seconds off my PB to run under 13:13.50 and book my spot to Tokyo. It will of course need a lot of hard work and no short supply of good fortune but I am excited for the journey to come.

Best of luck to everyone just starting their winter training!

Up the Ding!


Ps-- if people would like me to cover anything particular I’d be more than happy to do so. Equally, if people have any questions or would like any advice on anything feel free to message me on facebook etc.  

National Gold for Reading AC Athlete

Reading ACs Sammy Ball has won the gold medal at the English Schools’ Junior Boys’ Pentathlon on 21 September 2019. Representing Berkshire Schools, Sammy started the championships with a solid 11.45 secs in the 80m hurdles 0.05 secs off his personal best and leaving him in third place overall. A fantastic performance in the second event, shot put, saw Sammy throw 12.82m surpassing his previous best by 44cm and placing him in first position in the overall competition. In the third event, long jump Sammy achieved 6.09m, 21cm below his best but left him entering the fourth event,high jump, with a seventy point lead.

Sammy knew, however, that his fourth event would be critical. Although the fourth event is high jump, Sammy also had to take into account that the final event is 800m and his closest rival is English School’s champion in that event with an ‘on-paper’ thirteen point (or 215 pentathlon points) advantage.

In the high jump Sammy’s previous best of 1.81m gave him an eleven centimetre (or 92 pentathlon points) advantage over his rival. It was going to be close. When his rival cleared 1.74m, Sammy dug into his experience and resilience to clear 1.86m (a new Reading AC club record).

Going into the 800m, Sammy had a 193 point (or about 11 seconds) advantage over his rival. Through determination and ‘grit’ Sammy managed to run over four seconds faster than he ever has before to keep the distance between them at five seconds and finishing in 2 mins 07.09 secs.

With an overall score of 3,356 points Sammy claimed gold and goes into the UK all-time record books as the second highest scoring U15 boy outdoor pentahlete and complementing his indoor all-time record attained in March 2019.

Sammy’s performance also contributed to the Berkshire team winning the overall bronze medal in the team competition.

Additionally, Sammy now qualifies by right to compete for England at an indoor international pentathlon in Glasgow on 30 November 2019. Well done.

Alder Valley Victory for Reading AC Girls

Reading AC young female athletes were in action in the Alder Valley final at Eton on Saturday 14 September 2019.

The first 3 matches over the season gave Reading AC wins in the U13, U15 and U17 age group categories, and the good form continued in the final with a victory to retain the overall trophy. Well done girls!!

Thanks once again to our judges: Jason Gilder, Natalie Ercilla, Lynda Bayley, Tim Richardson, David Noble, Paul Herrington and Bharti Dhir. We appreciate your help.

Photos to follow.

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YDL National Final Report (Girls)

Lower YDL National Finals – Girls Team Report

Reading AC U13 ad U15 athletes made the long coach journey to Manchester this weekend in an attempt to retain their National YDL Title from 2018.

The weather was good and spirits were high, but we knew that it would be incredibly difficult to retain the title of National Champions again this year.

Reading AC totally dominated the 75m hurdles races with Tomi winning the A string (11.28, incredibly close to a pb) and Annie Jonkers the B string (11.58).  In the U15 80m hurdles, Megan Sommerville-Bailey, ran a superb A string race when she normally runs B string for Reading AC.  Both Megan and B string Naomi Sutton were close to personal best performances.

In the sprint races, Kaya Slater, still just a first year U15 athlete, had to step up to A string when Megan Pickup sadly injured her knee competing in the long jump competition.  Kaya ran incredibly well against a strong field (which included a new championship record holder, aptly named Success Eduan) as did Fern Harris and Topaz Samuel in the B string races, both of whom were only expecting to compete in the relay races, but did not hesitate to step in when needed.  Our U13 girls were absolutely flying with Tomi Adejuwon achieving Bronze in the 75m A string (10.32) and Lexie Thompson winning 75m B string (10.40).  Despite smashing her elbow up a few weeks ago, Izzy Fox ran a strong and determined race finishing 4th B string 150m.

The U15 300m and 800m races proved to be particularly tough and Team Captain Jemima Crocker bravely ran both distances. Jemima has never complained about doubling up and has done this in all five YDL matches, finishing with a 4 x 300m relay each time.  Poppy Hankinson and Katie Barnes ran the A 300m and B 800m races respectively, giving it their all, despite the mean opposition.  Our gutsy U15 1500m runners Ella Botha and Ella Newman have never let us down with their grit and determination and Ella B came 4th A string, just 1.5 sec  off 2nd place (4.55.4), with Ella N finishing 2nd B string (5.00.1).  Our U13 middle distance runners Mia Corbin, Khadijah Gaye, Alex Marden and Molly Barnes are all in the first year of this age group, but all stepped up to the challenge with Mia and Alex both running pbs in the 800m (2.35.96) and 1200m (4.18.04) respectively.  The YDL experience has been quite daunting for these girls at times, but they have never declined the chance to compete and this will put them in good stead to beat off the opposition next season.

On the field, Annie Jonkers jumped 4m69 to win silver in the U13 girls long jump and Lily Wilson kindly stepped in on the day to fill in the B string gap. Competition proved a bit tough in the U13 high jump, but Lily Wilson and Moriah Hurst gave it their all. Raissa Kaninda threw a respectable 7.49 to win silver in the shot put, whilst B string Millie Cooper came 4th.  Our top javelin thrower and good allrounder, Annie Jonkers came 2nd with a pb of 28.62, whilst Charlotte Ashby, our U13 team captain, threw one of her best performances of the season to win B string (21.20m).

Our U15 girls also found the jumps to be a challenge, with Lydia Godfrey having to step up to A string when Megan Pickup jarred her knee on landing. Both girls knew it would be tough but did not hesitate to grab the chance to compete when asked. Lauren Wellstead and Poppy Hankinson jumped the same height in the high jump, but unfortunately for Lauren, she had less failures, so ended up being out of the medals in A string, whereas lucky Poppy snatched a bronze medal for B string.  Our regular and reliable throwers Samaia Dhir and Mia Greenidge-Knell were drooping their heads at the end of the day because their necks were weighed down with medals. Both won three medals with Samaia’s top performance being gold in the A string discus (27.53) and Mia’s was silver in the A string shot (10.98).  Grace Huskinson came 6th in the A string javelin, whilst Naomi Schofield, who was drafted into the YDL team just a few weeks ago, came away with a bronze medal in B string.

We are lucky to have such a strong U15 girls pole vault team, this match in the form of Ruby Harris and Naomi Sutton.  George and Meryl Austin have coached and supported these girls through every YDL match and they both performed to the best of their abilities in Manchester, with Ruby vaulting 2.90m, just 10cm off her pb to win silver A string and Naomi reaching a new pb height of 2.80m to win gold B string.

Our team had been coming 3rd throughout the day, so it was crucial for our relay teams to do well to retain or improve our position.  Our U15 4 x 100m team was joined by reserve Megan Sommerville-Bailey, and some last-minute practices in the warm-up area ensured that they ran a solid race with good changeovers to come 5th overall, only just missing out on 4th.  The 4 x 300m team were quite tired after such tough 300m and 800m races earlier in the day, but were joined by a fresh-legged Scarlett Taplin.  Unfortunately a gap opened up in front which proved impossible to close, however, they never gave up and finished 6th a long way ahead of Milton Keynes.  A mistake by one of the officials meant that the first leg runners of the U13 girls 4 x 100m teams all ran one lane inside their second leg runners, causing panic and quick-thinking was required at the first changeover.  Our girls dealt with this well and flew around the track to finish in second place.  Unfortunately, despite three of the team managers wanting the results to stand, we were out voted by the teams that no doubt were out of the medal positions. This was most unfair on our girls, but that is the harsh reality of competition. 

Then came the big announcement ………… our overall position was third behind Sale Harriers, for whom the Etihad Stadium is home territory and Blackheath and Bromley, who had been slightly ahead of us most of the season in the Southern division.  Although it was close between these top two teams, we finished 30 points behind Blackheath and 39 points ahead of Preston in 4th, so a clear 3rd place for Reading AC.  It was lovely to see our team captains proudly collecting a runner-up trophy and with such strong performances and team spirit from our Reading Athletes, we can hold our heads up high.  Well done everyone – what a great weekend of athletics – one we will never forget.

Sarah Ball (Girls Lower YDL Team Manager)

Reading AC Young Athletes Compete in Alder Valley League

Reafing ACs U13/U15/U17 girls were in action at Guildford on Sunday 11 August in the third round of the Alder Valley League. A tremendous effort saw them come away with a convincing overall victory by over 100 points, and there were age group wins for the U15s and U17s whilst the U13s ended in second place by just half a point!

Congratulations to Ruby Harris who set a new U15G club record in the pole vault. Her jump of 3.10m moves her to ninth equal in the UK age group rankings, and her height was also a new U15G Alder Valley League record.

The U13/U15/U17 boys were in action on Saturday 10 August at a rather windy Basingstoke. The conditions didn’t deter those who competed and they also put in a good performance to finish second overall. The U13s won their age category, the U15s were third and the U17s were second.

Many thanks to all our officials who gave up their time to judge for us this weekend.

National Gold Medal for Reading AC Athlete

Congratulations to Reading Athletic Club’s U15 boy Sammy Ball who secured his third national gold medal of the year in the England Athletics octathlon championship in Manchester on 3 and 4 August 2019

Sammy led the field in two of the eight events (80m hurdles and high jump) and was either the second or third leading competitor in the other six events including a pleasing 2.97m in his first ever competitive pole vault.

Such incredible form over 2 days of competition meant that Sammy claimed the gold medal in a new championship record of 4402 points, 338 points ahead of his nearest rival.

Many congratulations to Sammy on his achievement, and well done to Sammy’s coaches Mike Dyer and Kevin Cranmer.

National octathlon championships in Manchester.

Reading AC UKWL team win final match and gain promotion to Div 2

An outstanding performance in the final match of the UKWL saw the Reading AC Ladies jump from 5th position in the league, to 2nd and promotion to Div 2. Athletes of the match were Emily Whybrow and Julie Wilson, but the final result was only possible thanks to all the athletes that competed this season, all those who have helped to officiated and our hard working team manager, Robert Tan. It is all about team commitment.

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