The Nicky Morris Challenge
The Inter-Schools Competition for Girls Developing Athletic Excellence in Young Women
2019 will be the 30th Anniversary of the Nicky Morris Challenge, an inter-school athletic competition for young women from School’s in East and Central Hertfordshire, and West Essex. The idea for the competition was developed in 1990 as a result of the schools development work that had been carrying out by David Rice and based on the inspirational success of a young woman who was a pupil of Presdales School, Ware who joined the Hertford and Ware Athletic Club at the age of twelve and eventually developed into a full international athlete, representing England and Great Britain in Cross-Country, Road Running and Track Events.
It took a series of meetings with the four local schools to get the competition off the ground, but eventually in 1990, the inaugural competition became a reality and the four schools from the Hertford and Ware area – Presdales, Simon Balle, Sele and Chauncy Schools took part. There was no Wodson Park facility in those days so the competition was moved around a few other locations – from Welwyn Garden City to Harlow.
Eventually when Wodson Park opened, and the competition having established itself at Wodson, other schools from East Hertfordshire began to take part, till it became necessary to change the structure of the competition to cater for the number taking part. This resulted in the introduction of a “divisional” structure which consisted of six or more teams in each division, and saw promotions and relegations after each years competition.
Trophies were won by schools for winning their division, and their age group, whilst athletes were awarded a medal for winning the competition in their division.
In 2014 the competition attracted TWENTY FOUR Girls Teams from Schools in East, North and Central Hertfordshire as well as West Essex to compete for honours in the name of the Nicky Morris Challenge.
Like Nicky, over the period of the competition, five young athletes, have also gone onto achieve international honours in athletics by competing for either or both England and Great Britain – Samantha Adamson (Presdales) – 400mHurdles, High Jump and Heptathlon – Hayley Wills (Birchwood) – 400m – Laura Wake (Presdales) – 200m, 400m and 400mHurdles, in 2014 the latest addition – Nicole Parcell (Presdales) Pentathlon, and in 2016 the latest addition, Grace Gentry (Chauncy) 300m Hurdles. We are pleased that the competition, and the David Rice as their Coach played a part in the development of these athletes.