SOUTHEND High School for Boys head of PE Stephen Thomas admitted to being blown away by the World School Athletics Championships in China.

Southend’s squad were able to secure a superb eighth place finish out of 21 teams.

And Thomas was full of praise for his pupils, as well as the event.

“It was just an absolutely fantastic experience and the boys were a real credit to the school both on the track and off it,” said Thomas.

“We were third after the first day, fifth after the second and then slipped to eighth after the relay but it was still a superb achievement and the event as a whole was just first class.

“The venue is the Chinese centre of excellence for their athletes in Wuhan, which is a city of 10million people, so the facilities were incredible and so too was the organisation.

“The opening ceremony was incredible and I can’t speak highly enough of the whole event.

“It was a real privilege to be a part of it all.”

Thomas also heaped praise on his young athletes who were able to enjoy a number of impressive results.

The team was led by Bradley Barrett and included Taylor Hartman, John Nutman, Kyle Smith, Joe Ray and Harrison Smith.

Kyle Smith won gold in the shot-putt with a fine effort of 15.15 metres while Barrett was second in the pole vault with 3.70m.

And Thomas was delighted by the displays.

“We had some very good performances and I was really pleased for Kyle and Bradley to win their medals,” said Thomas.

“There was a great atmosphere and our squad were all great ambassadors for the school as well, winning the fair play award.

“The Indian squad had problems getting their poles to the event to use for the pole vault and so did the Belgians so we leant them ours.

“I think that helped us to win the secret ballot which took place for the award but I’m very proud we were picked. It was certainly something none of us will ever be able to forget.”