Nine years ago, Parton, Woodard, Henderson and Grant – all champion sportsmen – emerged winners at Ludgrove’s prestigious cross country meeting. Their names still appear in the programme as record-breakers on the old course. They were a ‘dream’ team, good enough to succeed in a challenging relay event to which the top cross-country schools send their teams.
Since then the Oratory Prep has produced some fine runners and won medals but not the coveted gold. That is until yesterday, when the Under 11 boys stunned their rivals by coming from behind to win one of the most exciting races ever seen at this well-supported relay competition.
Bowles, Eckersall, Milton and Forsyth did their school proud with a truly memorable performance against more than twenty teams. The first three runners – Bowles, Eckersall and Milton – were superb in keeping the Oratory Prep in the medal hunt by maintain a top-three presence throughout the first three laps of a testing course and in driving wind.
But when Forsyth set off for the final lap – a couple of hundred metres behind – no one from the other schools would have given the Oratory Prep much hope of winning. In fact there seemed to be no chance of success when Callum misjudged an awkward fence and crashed head-first into the ground.
Yet the drama was simply unfolding with the crowd treated to a magnificent contest in which Callum judged his race to perfection as he reeled in his opponent and passed him with 800 metres remaining. He then set his sights on the leader and the last stretch of the course witnessed a grand climax to the race as Callum made up the difference and stormed to the front. His remarkable effort enabled the talented Oratory Prep team to recapture the trophy!
In years to come Oratory Prep supporters will recall their latest champions. The team of 2017 – Bowles, Eckersall, Milton and Forsyth – have etched their names into the school’s sporting folklore and they will no doubt be spoken of with the same pride as the 2007 winners.
Dr J. Winch