Running club Highgate Harriers, with support from The Arsenal Foundation and England Athletics, recently sent two qualified coaches to Swiss Cottage SEN School. During the 13-week project they coached four athletics classes for one hour each on Monday, and for six weeks ran a Tuesday night track session. Fourteen-year-old Jahziah Williams took part.
“As it happens I live in Islington, about 10 minutes from Emirates Stadium, and I’ve already been attending Highgate Harriers for two years. I was told about the coaching sessions by a school PE teacher who knew I loved running and thought it was worth me doing some extra training.
“I love to run. It gives me a freedom that I don’t normally experience because I have cerebral palsy. It’s also an extra activity to do after school. It seems lots of my fellow pupils enjoy running as well because the sessions were very popular, and it gave lots of people the chance to enjoy it as I do. I have been selected to train and run with the national Paralympic team, in the T37 class.
“I don’t want to sound big-headed but I am currently ranked number one in the UK for 60m, 100m, and 200m and under-15 level as a T37 runner. I enjoy other sports as well, such as football and basketball, and am on the school teams, but I’ve loved running from a young age.
“Mum remembers how fast and how much I loved to run along the beaches in Jamaica, which was where my family and I met Usain Bolt at a charity event run by fellow sprinter Asafa Powell. That was in Kingston in 2009, just after Bolt won his first Olympic gold medal. It was a massive inspiration.
“The course helped me gain extra training to develop into a stronger athlete. I received coaching in sprinting, throwing and jumping, but with particular emphasis on sprinting, as that’s my sport. The coaching was done in a friendly, constructive way which meant that measured improvements were made, and the coaches were always fun and encouraging.
“I also made some new friends. My hopes for the future are to become a faster and better athlete, to keep improving my PBs and maybe be good enough to attend an Olympic event and the World Championships. I’d also like to become a sports coach – oh, and to be happy and successful in life.
“Finally, I think it’s great that Arsenal support local events – it has nothing to do with football but betters the community, and gives something back to the community at large.”
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