There was plenty to celebrate for the local schools when they welcomed some of the world’s best student athletes to Dubai for last week’s U11 World School Games.
It was schools from Nigeria that took home gold and silver in the overall standings, but Dubai teams made up five of the top seven places, and even the lowest placing Emirati school managed to accrue an impressive 120 points over the three days of competition.
Top of the Dubai pile, and third overall, were JESS Arabian Ranches who finished with 520 points, a result made possible thanks to their incredible efforts in the swimming. This was in large part thanks to the efforts of Ava Jones, Erin Peirson, Jade Qursha and Caitlyn Kee – the Ranches girls came out on top in every swimming event they took part in. The boys contributed as well; their second-place finish in the 4x50m Freestyle (B) final helped their school earn the maximum 200 points from the pool events.
Elsewhere, swimming hero Ava helped herself to an 800m silver on the track, whilst the efforts of Jake Anderson (4th) and Bjorn Marwa (9th) helped Ranches to a second-place overall finish in the Boys 800m event.
Not far behind in the standings were GEMS WSO, who finished 4th with 480 points. Their boys were almost as dominant in the pool as the Ranches girls; they won gold in the 4x50m Freestyle (A) event, with Mahmoud Dwidar (50m Breaststroke) and Mohamed Halawa (50m Freestyle) nabbing first place in their individual events. Their representatives combined finishes in the 50m Butterfly and 50m Backstroke was also enough to secure first place in the standings for both events.
On the football pitch, WSO finished second overall in the standings, thanks in large part to their girls’ third place finish. In the athletics events, Maryam Alfarsi’s silver and Anni Kilpelainen’s bronze helped their school to first place in the girls’ javelin.
Dubai International Academy came in in fifth place, thank to the efforts of star athlete Nina who recorded a jump of six metres in the standing triple jump and a leap of 135cm in the high jump to bag gold in both events.
Elsewhere in athletics, the combined efforts of Gabriel and Sam in the boys shot putt and Gabriel and Kameel in the boys’ javelin helped DIA to second place in both events, whilst they also finished third in the girls 50m backstroke event in the pool and 4th in the boys football event.
Just missing out on a top five finish was JESS Jumeirah. Their stand-out performer was Sophie Maillet-Freixanet who saw off stiff competition to triumph in the girls 800m event. Other than that, they finished third in the boys 800m event, thanks in large part to Luca Eastham Fisk’s bronze medal; came in second overall in both the boys and girls 50m backstroke; won bronze medals in the girls and boys high jump thanks to Leila al Rafaey and Nicolas Vilela; and finished third overall in the boys 50m Butterfly.
Just ten points behind JESS Jumeirah – and completing the run of Dubai schools in the standings – was Foremarke, who matched their seventh-place finish from a year ago.
Their star man on the track was Ziggy Harland. The runner took gold in the boys 800m and silver in the 400m. They also finished 2nd overall in the girls 400m thanks to the efforts of Bella Black and Tilly Thompson, and third in the boys triple jump due the performances of Torben Roenn and Adam Abdel Latif – the latter of whom also claimed silver in the high jump.
GEMS Modern Academy finished in 13th place with a total of 250 points.It may not have been the overall result they were looking for, but they can be particularly proud of the efforts of Ansh Oberoi. The 75m gold medallist, 150m silver medallist and shot putt runner-up was named athletics MVP, and also helped his team to a fourth-place finish in the boys 4x100m relay.
In a tie for 16th place came GEMS Metropole. Their stand-out results came in the girls 50m butterfly where they came in third in the standings, and the girls 150m where Jemima Sullivan finished in third place.
Finally, GEMS First Point finished ijust behind GEMS Metropole. Although they did not medal, Peculiar Emeka-Ugwanali and Natasha Pretorius helped their school to a respectable sixth place finish in the shot putt, whilst the girls also put in a good effort to finish sixth in the football tournament.
The U11 World School Games took place between the 31st of January and the 2nd of February. The U13 tournament takes place between the 28th February and the 2nd of March. More information can be found here.