Schools Pentathlon International
Emirates Arena, Glasgow, 12th December 2015
Matt Chandler of Balfron High School came within a whisker of victory for Scotland at the schools pentathlon international at the Emirates Arena at the weekend. Scotland have not won this event since 1998 and Matt’s Junior Boys team came into the event as underdogs against strong opposition from favourites England and Ireland but Matt and his Scottish team looked like they were about to pull off a shock win as they led for much of the day only to be pipped by England at the finish.
Matt was one of 3 Central AC athletes, along with fellow Balfron athlete, Anna Cameron and Lucy Davison of Morrison’s Academy, all making their international debut for Scotland at the annual event that pits the top all round athletes from throughout the home nations schools against each other.
While Matt Chandler was competing at this event for the first time he was continuing a long family tradition following in the footsteps of his brother Tom who made a record 4 consecutive appearances for Scotland at this event from 2011 – 2014. Matt stepped up to the challenge and had the best possible start in the 60m hurdles smashing his pb by half a second to run 8.67s for 2nd place in his heat placing him 4th overall out of a field of 16 international athletes. He followed this with another personal best 5.93m in the long jump which not only lifted him into the medal positions in 3rd but helped move Scotland into an unexpected lead ahead of England and Ireland. He then had another huge 1.3s personal best in the 200m running 24.08s to maintain 3rd place. At this point the team event couldn’t be tighter with just 20 points separating the top 3 as Ireland won 3 of the 4 heats to edge in front and England edged 7 points ahead of Scotland. There was everything to play for as they went into the 4th shot putt event and a pb from Matt at 10.72m along with pbs from all of the Scottish team saw them pull 200 points clear of Ireland but England matched the Scots to remain a narrow 50 points in front. Matt was also after an individual medal and had slipped to 5th but was just 50 points behind 3rd place and the podium going into the 800 metres. With 50 points equalling under 4 seconds on the scoring tables a tense battle loomed in the 800m as the Scots knew they just needed to beat their English counterparts by 1 second each to secure a historic win.
Matt and his teammates gave their all in the 800m but with English athletes running the fastest 2 times and the Irish athlete in 4th place ahead of Matt running strongly he knew he had lost out in both the individual medal and the team gold. Matt crossed the line in 2:20.95 scoring a 400 point personal best 3044 points for 5th place overall. And while they had missed out on a famous win Matt’s team can still be proud of a superb 5th place against top class opposition and his team holding off Ireland and finishing well ahead of Wales to take team silvers overall. But Matt knew how close he came to individual bronze and how close the Scots came to history and will be back to try and again next year.
Anna Cameron and Lucy Davison were contesting the junior girls event in a team who were all representing Scotland for the first time. They started well in the long jump as Anna jumped 4.98m and Lucy 4.62m. They then both had personal bests in the 60m hurdles Anna running 9.65s to place her 10th and Lucy ran 9.91s. Anna set another personal best 1.45m in the high jump to maintain 10th and Lucy cleared 1.39m. In the shot it was Lucy’s turn to shine in her main event as she threw 10.74m as Anna set yet another personal best with 8.36m. These performances lifted Scotland ahead of Wales into 3rd place going into the final 800m event. While England and Ireland were battling it out for the victory Anna and Lucy had to ensure they stayed ahead of their Welsh counterparts to hold onto 3rd place. Both athletes did what was asked as Anna finished strongly to hold off the leading Welsh athlete for 2nd place in her heat with 2:27.91 behind her Scottish teammate Olivia Vareille and Lucy set a personal best 2:43.09 to beat 2 of the Welsh athletes and secure the team bronze for Scotland. Both athletes were rewarded with personal best scores. Anna scored 3041 points for a respectable 9th place overall against a top class field of 16 athletes. Lucy also scored a personal best 2806 points for 14th place overall. Both athletes will learn from the experience of competing at this high level and look to improve next year.
Overall the Central AC athletes did Scotland proud and will hope to add to their international appearances in the future.