Ella's a rising star in a range of athletics events

Ella Wintle receiving her trophy at the Pembrokeshire Harriers presentation eveningWhen the Pembrokeshire Harriers recently held their annual awards presentation afternoon at The Pavilion in Withybush one of the deserved recipients of an age category award was talented 12 year old athletics all-rounder Ella Wintle.
Ella competes in the 100m (60m when indoors), 200m, 800m, 70m hurdles (60m hurdles when indoors), long jump, shot putt and cross country – and uses her all-round skills in the ‘combined events’, which requires participants to take part in the hurdles, long jump, shot and 800m’
 It is a pretty diverse range that for girls aspiring to be heptathletes gives them an opening before later taking on the other disciplines of high jump, 200m and javelin as they get older.
Ella’s favourite event is the 200m and a measure of the progress she has made comes with the fact that she has broken the Harrier’s record for the distance, both indoors and outdoors, this year.

Started in junior school

She started out in athletics while a pupil at Tenby Junior School (now Hafan y Mor School), where she enjoyed cross country and really made her mark in years 5 & 6 when she was first past the post in her age category at Oakwood.
From there it was on to the Dyfed Championships in Carmarthen and won the event in those two years before moving to Ysgol y Preseli.
It was during this time that Ella received a letter inviting her to join the Harriers and after deciding to give the 800m a chance she was made very welcome by middle distance coach Pete Freeman and the more experienced competitors like Eliza Martin and Matthew Williams.

Soon testing herself in a range of events

It wasn’t very long before she was happy to test herself in other events and there is no doubt that she is very appreciative of the help given to her by the club coaches as most of Ella’s sessions have been with Pete, Nigel Rowland (hurdles) and Richard Thomas (sprints).
However, to maintain a presence in the combined events she has experienced the generosity and flexibility of nearly all the club coaches, in particular Sue Alvey and Luke Foley for the long jump and Ron Griffiths for the Shot.
“All of the coaches have been great,” said Ella, “and encourage us to try other things.  I go to the track at STP school twice a week and enjoy building my skills in the events that I choose to do that evening.”

Wonderful season

The training is clearly working because in the season just finished Ella performed superbly to win six National Titles, one silver and one bronze in the running range from 60m to 800m.
Progress in the long jump and shot putt were important for the silver in the combined events and let’s not forget her original cross country background (1st in Dyfed as recently as February 2017) which has now become 3200m for Ella. 60m to 3200m, long jump and shot putt is some range!
Approaching the Welsh Championships in Wrexham in August this year Ella was aware that the 100m was on the Saturday and the 800m, 70m hurdles and 200m were on the Sunday.

Ella standing on the winners  podiumFacing an injury hurdle . . .

The sprints have multiple rounds on the same day in championships so Sunday was clearly going to be a challenging day. She chose to enter all four, but nine days before the championships Ella sprained her ankle in training and was put on crutches. She was unable to weight bear for five days and was bitterly disappointed; her family accepted that she would not compete in Wrexham.
The family had tickets for the World Athletics Championships, attending two days after her injury and Ella enjoyed the opportunity to cheer on Mo Farah and the relay teams, which included the unexpected and amazing gold in the men’s 4 x 100m relay.

. . . And overcoming it through sheer determination

Ella was determined to make every effort to compete in Wrexham and asked if she could make her decision during the warm up for the 100m heat. She did not run after her injury until the warm up nine days later and with a strapped ankle she ran the heat and qualified for the final as the fifth fastest athlete.
She then surprised herself, her family and her coaches by winning the final, running 0.4 secs faster in the final than in her heat!
Ella sensibly decided to opt out of the 800m the next morning to focus on the other two – and she qualified for the 200m final and again surprised herself and everyone else by breaking the club record in the final. There was more success towards the end of the day as Ella narrowly broke the tape in the 70m hurdles; so the family travelled home with Ella proudly wearing three gold medals as a reward for her tenacity.

Terrific tally of medals

Ella’s total medal tally for the season is as follows:
West Wales Regional Championships: 100m, 200m and 70m hurdles – Three Golds
West Wales Indoor Championships: 60m and 60m hurdles – Two Golds
Welsh Championships: 100m, 200m and 70m hurdles – Three Golds
Welsh Indoor Championships: 60m, 60m hurdles and 200m – Three Golds. 800m – Bronze
Welsh Combined Events Championships: Silver Medal
Not content with that little lot, Ella’s performances have caused her to be included in the ‘Power of Ten’ UK rankings for ten events, including cross-country.

And finally . . .

But it’s not all about medals for Ella because it is refreshing to report that for her it is the joy of running, jumping and throwing that is paramount in her athletics for this talented young lady.
She is often laughing in the company of her fellow athletes on training nights and has really enjoyed the camaraderie and team spirit when competing for the club in all four league matches, the Welsh Cup final and the Gerald Codd trophy match this year, competing in three events and the relay on each occasion.
We wish Ella Wintle every success in the future because she really deserves to do well!