SOUTH Essex schools have once again proved they are the powerhouses of national athletics with dozens of teams qualifying for tomorrow’s English Schools Track & Field Cup final.

A total of 12 teams from FitzWimarc School, King John School, Southend High School for Boys, Southend High School for Girls and Westcliff High School for Boys will continue Essex’s rich tradition in the event when they compete at Bedford tomorrow.

For the first time in the school’s history, the FitzWimarc School, from Rayleigh, will have four teams at the event, covering every age group.

It also may be the first time in the event’s long history that a state school has had four teams qualify.

“That’s what the organisers have told us,” said FitzWimarc School’s head of PE Danny Cowley who said the achievement even drew levels of comparison to their intermediate boys team that finished fourth in the World Schools Athletics Championships last year.

“That was a phenomenal achievement and this is too. To get 60 pupils all competing at a national level, all from a state school in Rayleigh is fantastic.

“That’s what is fantastic about our kids. They all live within a two to three-mile radius of the school. They are just regular kids but they all work incredibly hard. They come in before school, after school and it shows that hard work can take you a long way.”

FitzWimarc are going for their fifth straight win in the intermediate boys category, which would be a competition record.

And Cowley said the school’s proud history in the event, along with their fantastic performance at the World Schools Championships last year, serves as an inspiration to every pupil arriving at the school.

“It has raised standards,” said Cowley. “It is like a domino effect.

“The younger kids come in and look at the older ones and aspire to be like them.” As well as the school defending their intermediate boys title, FitzWimarc will also be defending the junior girls crown, with most of their athletes now going into the intermediate girls category.

Another school going into the championships as reigning champions is Southend High School for Girls who won the intermediate girls title at Gateshead last year.

Southend Standard:

The two Southend High School for Girls teams

The school has, as usual, qualified both its junior and intermediate boys team through to tomorrow’s final with their junior girls team going into the competition with the highest score by any school in the country in the regional qualifiers.

Southend High School for Boys will also be travelling to Bedford hoping for success.

Their junior boys team qualified for the finals as the best scoring squad in the nation from the regional qualifying, while their intermediate boys team could find themselves in a south-east Essex battle for the podium as they square off against strong FitzWimarc and King John School teams.

Southend Standard:

The Southend High School for Boys teams

The intermediate boys team is one of three teams to have qualified from the King John School in Thundersley, alongside the junior and intermediate girls.

It is the first time in the school’s history that it has three teams at the national finals.

Southend Standard:

The King John School's three teams

King John PE teacher Jonathan Edwards said: “A huge amount of credit goes to all the pupils who have trained hard for this. And a massive thanks to the whole PE staff who have given up every lunch time since Easter, plus regular training and competitions after school to make this possible.”

The final south Essex team to make it to Bedford is Westcliff High School for Boys’ junior boys team.

Southend Standard:

The Westcliff High School for Boys junior boys team