Sherborne Qatar Preparatory School Head of PE, Alistair Palfrey, has described his schools victory in the Year 3-6 QPPSSA Cross Country event this month as an “incredibly special achievement”.
It is the third time in a row that the school have won the event, competed in by Qatar’s International Schools, and it’s an accomplishment Palfrey believes cannot be overstated.
He said: “I am so incredibly proud, not only of the 2018 team but also the legacy that has been created by the 2016 and 2017 teams.
All the QPPSSA tournaments are so competitive and it is rare that a school wins the same tournament in consecutive years.
So, for [us] to win a hat-trick of Cross Country titles is an incredibly special achievement that our children and school community are proud of.”
40 students – 20 girls and 20 boys – from Years 3-6 featured at the event, with those in the two younger age groups running 1.1km and those in the higher age groups running 2.2km.
Amongst those competing were 11-year-olds Hamza and Nour, who were both selected – as all the Sherborne team were – because of their performances in the schools Inter House Cross Country event.
Both have running experience from previous years but revealed that they still felt the tension of such a big event.
Hamza said: “I was nervous before my run because having to race against lots of other children is always going to be difficult.
“I am so proud that we were able to win it for a third year in a row.”
Nour added: “I felt like I had run really well during my race but I was still nervous about the final result.
“The whole team believed that we could win it again this year and we did.”
Sherborne’s success in cross-country events in recent years has been remarkable, but as Palfrey explains, it is the culmination of a lot of hard-work on the part of the students:
“The whole school take part in cross-country running during the build-up the QPPSSA tournament,” he said. “During the unit they learn about how to pace themselves and we also teach them about how running is a low cost way of keeping themselves fit as they get older.
“Our cross-country work also coincides with our school’s value of the term - perseverance - and this is a key message which we teach our children through cross-country running and in all other areas of our school.
“My department and I ensure that we support all the children to make their experience of running as positive a memory as possible; we help all the children to set themselves personal targets each week when they run to encourage them to persevere and to experience success, whether they finish at the front of the pack or nearer the back.
“I am sure there are some people reading this article who have bad memories of participating in cross-country runs when they were at school and our aim is make running a positive memory for all our children at the prep school.”
Joining Hamza and Nour on the team were 10-year-old Ana-Bea and 11-year-old Beth who, despite their young age, have four years cross country experience each.
They echoed the thoughts of Palfrey and had some advice for any youngsters looking to take up distance running.
Ana-Bea said: “Don’t be over-confident when racing against others and save something for the last 100 metres.”
Beth said: “Don’t overthink it when you are running, just enjoy it!”
For the students, attention now turns to the athletics season that gets underway in the new year, with everyone hoping to earn a place representing Sherborne at upcoming events.
Ana-Bea said: “I hope we can take our success from the Cross Country and be really successful when the Athletics season starts in January.”
Beth said: “I hope we can continue winning more of the QPPSSA tournaments when we come back after the Winter Holidays.”
“As for Cross Country, we can reflect positively on another successful year and hope that 2019 brings us our 4th title in a row,” added Palfrey.