Every year athletes competing in the National Junior League for athletes Under 20, have their performances converted to a points basis similar to the way Decathlon and Heptathlon events are scored. Where athletes take part in three events in each of three out of the four league meetings, their points are accumulated and the top eight men and top eight women are invited to compete against each other at the National Final of the League.

Ipswich Harriers has a proud tradition in this event known as the National Junior League “Grand Prix”.  Harriers who have previously made the final include Jason McDade who went twice, winning the overall final at his second attempt. Laura Seston who won the women’s final in the same year that Jason won. Finally Charlene Snelgrove tried to win the hard way by choosing 100 metres, 800 metres and 1500 metres at the same meeting. From memory I believe Charlene came 6th in the final.

In the 2007 season Ipswich Harriers had two women qualify for the final. Georgina Malster ended the season in 4th place and Kerry Dixon in eighth. Sadly for Kerry, the final came too late and she had already left the country to take up her place in college in the States.

Georgina, however, went to Derby on 9th September and competed in the Long and Triple Jumps and 200 metres. After a relatively calm morning, a stiff breeze blew up which swirled around the Moorways Stadium. So tricky was the wind that the referees switched the Long Jump around after the Men’s competition and yet still some of the women jumped into a head wind. It certainly meant that the sprinters had to battle down the home straight.

Not all the Grand Prix finalists were doing the same events so Georgina competed with the 16 athletes from the eight league finalist clubs in the Jumps but ran against three of her fellow finalists in their own 200 metres. Georgina finished the race in third in a time of 27.1 seconds. Her jumps at 4.76 metres and 9.82 metres for the Long and Triple respectively were down on her personal bests but when the results were declared Georgina was called forward to receive a trophy, sponsored by Athletics Weekly, for finishing the day in 5th place. An excellent performance against the countries top junior athletes. The winner was Amanda Ranger of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers who was competing for her club in the final and actually won the Long Jump and was third overall in the Triple Jump. Amanda is an outstanding athlete and made it a double first for her club with the Men’s Grand Prix being won by her club colleague Chris Scott who had competed in Hammer, Shot and Discus.

Despite these two victories it wasn’t enough to stop Blackheath and Bromley winning the National Junior League title ahead of Enfield, Haringey and Hounslow with Shaftesbury Barnet in third. The expected challenge from Sale Harriers and Birchfield never materialised on the day.

“It was an amazing day”, said a slightly disappointed Georgina,” I never thought I would be competing with so many of the top athletes in the country. I really want to come back next year and I know I can be up there challenging! My run ups were awful today but I will work on them and I will be back.”

From a spectator’s point of view, it is fantastic to see the Ipswich vest competing with the rich and heavily sponsored clubs.

Well done to Georgina and to Kerry and to all you Under 20s Harriers, the gauntlet is down lets see how many we can get there next year.


Mike Oakley