STRATFORD Athletic Club’s Jack Sumners won a 110m hurdles silver medal as one of the 25 athletes representing England at the Commonwealth Youth Games in the Bahamas.
The games saw 1,300 athletes from 70 nations and territories aged between 14 and 18 gather on the island of New Providence to compete in nine different sports including athletics, beach volleyball, swimming, rugby sevens, football, tennis, boxing, cycling and judo.
Sumners left the UK “excited and really looking forward to it being a great experience” and had every reason to feel optimistic of his chances in the 110m hurdles as one of the fastest in the field.
After a long flight, the England team were housed in a beautiful complex and the air conditioning was a welcome relief after the first training session in the really hot weather.
Sumners said: “Even though my coach and I put together a light training programme prior to the competition to acclimatise and take things easy, the heat sapped my energy more than I expected.”
The second day’s training in the hot conditions was tough and Sumners fell ill, leaving the medical team to fear he might have an infection after training in the heat.
He started to recover overnight but unfortunately missed the opening ceremony due to being isolated as a precaution. He was moved back to the team hotel the following day after rest and treatment and was “feeling great”, but the experience left him physically drained.
By luck, other competitors dropped out of the hurdles, so no heats were necessary which gave Sumners another day’s rest.
He lined up with his countryman Sam Bennett and athletes from four other countries and from the gun the two Englishmen were straight into their racing.
The race was even throughout until the closing stages when Bennett edged in front to win gold and the rapidly tiring Sumners dipped on the line to win the silver medal.
Afterwards Sumners reflected on the time of his life and said: “It was a tough race and I came for gold but towards the end I just ran out of energy and so I am really pleased to win the silver, especially after being ill.
“It was a brilliant experience and I’m really pleased with how I performed and grateful for all the support from home.”
England topped the final medal table, well ahead of second placed Australia, which means Sumners has in the space of a month contributed to England schools winning the International Schools competition and now England the Commonwealth Youth Games.