Young people from Enfield denied Barking and Dagenham a record fourth successive win with a stunning victory in the athletics to be crowned Panathlon London champions.
The contest at the Copper Box Arena, made famous during the London 2012 Olympic Games, went right down to the wire in a rocking atmosphere as the Enfield team – represented by pupils from Westlea and Waverley schools – who triumphed by just metres in the final athletics races.
Their victory, and a second place finish by Croydon in the final event meant Enfield were crowned London champions for the first time by a margin of just two points.
“I am the proudest teacher in the world today,” said Valerie Harnett, team manager and teacher at Westlea School. “I didn’t think I would ever see these guys win here and I am so, so pleased to see them do it. They have tried so, so hard and after seven years we’ve done it.
“I just love them to bits and I’m so pleased for them. Everybody is part of the team, the staff and parents included. I’m a bit teary and overwhelmed. If I never do a Panathlon as a manager again I will know I left today with a victory. It means so much.”
Marshall Agorhoulihan, 15, a Westlea School pupil, said: “It feels great, I’m so happy. We’ve worked so hard. I am just blown away. I never thought we would win but we took the victory and it feels amazing. I’m going to hang this medal on my wall at home and look at it all night.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Rick Jewell, said: “I am enormously proud of our incredible young people, their never say die spirit and the hard work and dedication they have put in to win this competition is an inspiration and they have given the whole borough a lift.
”Encouraging our young people to compete in the Panathlon is a great example of how Enfield Council’s Schools PE Team and Active Enfield team are working together with schools to increase participation in physical activity by the whole community.”
The day had started and finished with much for Enfield to be proud of. Their long-time team member and precision beanbag expert, Teyla Sadik, took to the microphone to make the traditional Panathlon Oath before the competition began.
The 17-year-old said: “I was a little bit nervous to start but I’ve been practising the speech at home which helped me a lot. I’ve never done anything like that before. I love coming to Panathlons and they really help my confidence.”
Enfield finished with 50 points thanks to victories in boccia and both athletics events, with Barking and Dagenham on 48, Croydon on 40 and Merton just off the podium on 30. Full results here.