The event bears some similarities with our own Schools' Track and Field Cup but with infinitely more complex rules! Teams of six athletes take part in separate competitions for individual school teams and National squads. Scoring tables are used to measure the worth of each performance. Because of the different structure it is always a problem to select individual school teams and this year the two leading boys and girls schools were asked to look at their present athletes and to select a hypothetical team based on the Jean Humbert rules and scoring tables. As a result of this exercise teams from Southend High School for Boys and Portsmouth Grammar School (girls) were invited to represent England.
The school teams found the standard to be very high indeed as they competed against other institutions ten times their size but they acquitted themselves very well indeed and enjoyed the experience. Many of the girls from Portsmouth Grammar School were faced with the unenviable prospect of taking a GCSE examination on the morning of the last day of competition. With the cooperation of the International School in Bordeaux the Examination Board was able to sanction the use of that as a centre. A dash across the city by public transport after the examination enabled the team members to arrive in time to take part in the final session of the competition.
The National teams performed well but the boys were always going to struggle as the sixth member of their team, selected at the last moment to cover a late withdrawal, neglected to point out that he didn't hold a UK passport and he was unable to obtain the requisite visa for entry to France in time to travel. As a result virtually every performance by the team members had to be included in the final total and consequently the team finished 7th.
The girls were even more unlucky. With points being based on scoring tables every centimetre and fraction of a second became critical. Sadly, in the final medley relay, whilst leading comfortably the baton was dropped at the last change over and several valuable seconds must have been lost before the final leg athlete was back in her stride. That the girls finished just one point behind Turkey and two behind China in the final classification suggests that a clear second place would have been a likely outcome but for that unfortunate slip.
The principal results were:
|GIRLS||INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL TEAMS||NATIONAL TEAMS|
|1||Poland||723 pts||1||Italy||723 pts|
|2||Austria||625 pts||2||China||695 pts|
|3||China||623 pts||3||Turkey||694 pts|
|17||Portsmouth Grammar School||477 pts|
|BOYS||INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL TEAMS||NATIONAL TEAMS|
|1||Germany||673 pts||1||South Africa||740 pts|
|2||France||660 pts||2||Chinese Taipei||719 pts|
|3||Poland||655 pts||3||France||706 pts|
|12||Southend High School for Boys||532 pts||7||England||672 pts|