Yoyo Barnsley, Year 11, has followed her success as U17 County Cross Country Champion – a title she has won three years in a row – by becoming U17 Intercounties SW Regional Champion, running at Bicton College, Budleigh Salterton on Sunday 4th January despite being a year younger than most participants. Taking the lead from the start against some tough competition and gradually building on this throughout the 5.1 km race, Yoyo could not be challenged, crossing the finish line 18 seconds ahead of the top Dorset girl Serena O’Connor. She was the only Cornish competitor in the top 20.
“It was a fantastic feeling as I’ve never won this competition before,” said Yoyo, who came third in last year’s competition. “My coach is very happy and so am I. I’ve put in so much training and that has really paid off. The competition was very tough and I’m so proud of what I have achieved.”
Yoyo has been a leading performer in county and regional cross country competitions this year. On Sunday 18th January in the Cross Challenge in Cardiff for U17 Women at Cardiff she ranked third – coming less than a second behind her fellow competitors. This weekend, in the Cornwall Schools’ Cross Country, she not only won the Intermediate Girls but also set an impressive new course county record of 14 minutes 17 seconds. She also won the race last year.
This season holds much promise. Training six out of seven days a week, Yoyo is working hard in order to achieve her goals. Hot on the heels of her county success, she is already preparing for a national Cross Country race in Parliament Hill, London and the South West Schools Cross Country competition in February. If Yoyo gets through to the English Schools final in Blackburn she will have the opportunity to be put in the running for the England Team.
Mrs Barnsley, Yoyo’s mum said: “It is exciting that Yoyo has a chance at Blackburn to make the top eight England team but we are making sure that we don’t put that pressure or expectation on her as she has her own clear focus to try her best. Yoyo takes it a race at a time and has a fantastic approach. Sport is of course as psychological as it is physical.”
“Yoyo continues to move up the performance ladder in cross country,” explained Head of PE Mrs Barbery-Redd. “She takes her training very seriously and must sacrifice a great deal in order to be performing at the level she is. She is a dedicated runner who seems to have the mind-set it takes to become a top athlete in the future.”