Chichester athletes are masters of their own medal destiny

Chichester’s veteran athletes emerged with three individual medals and two sets of team medals from a hard-fought Sussex Masters cross-country championships.

On the hilly Lancing Manor course, fast conditions resulted in excellent times over the four-mile women’s course and the 5.4-mile men’s route.

Individual pride of place must go to Chichester’s women’s squad who accounted for all three individual medals.

Jane Leonard was a superb winner of the over-55 race in a time of 31min 30sec while team-mate Sue Baker won bronze in the same category.

Angela Carpenter shone at the head of the over-35 age group with a well-deserved silver medal to finish in sight of the overall winner in 27.23.

Team wise for the women, the best result was from the combined over-45 and over-55 team, where Leonard led them home in 12th, with Tracy Jayant 19th and Sue Barty 21st for a team position of fifth with 52 points.

Baker led home the B team in 33rd for the same age group followed by Eva Mikuska in 35th and Lynn Harley, for ninth place with 107 points.

An over-35 team medal was in the offing for Chichester but late withdrawals meant Carpenter and Rachel Austin were lacking a third scorer to complete the team.

Although the men’s squad didn’t produce individual performances to rival the women, they surpassed expectations team-wise to gain two sets of medals.

The over-50 trio of Dave Dorning, Rob Wiggins and Dave Worcester have been the mainstay of the over-50 A team for the past decade.

Against a much younger Brighton & Hove squad, they packed well enough to keep up their amazing record of never having been out of the medals in this event to finish sixth, 11th and 13th for 30 points and silver medals.

Tom Blaylock led home the B team in 21st followed by improving Terry Healy in 22nd and Nigel McNestrie 28th for 71 points and seventh. Hot on their heels were Colin Harley in 30th, Dave Barty 41st and Gary Tompsett 42nd for 113 points and ninth place.

Chichester’s over-60s also lived up to their hopes by winning bronze team medals with 28 points thanks to a fine battle with Jan Hill just getting the better of Martin Miller for seventh place with Miller eighth, just three seconds behind.

There was an equally keen battle for the last scoring place with John Betts getting the better of Terry Slade for 13th. Slade, however, had the distinction of being the first over-70 to finish, although there is no county medal at this age group.

With Peter Shaw in 18th, this was another display of good packing for Chichester.

The over-40 men just missed out on medals. Led by an excellent fifth place from Chris Jack, back to near his best after a long injury lay-off, there was good support from Lee Neumann in 17th, Andy Maynard 29th and Chris Tucker 31st to total 82 points for the four-man squad in this age group and fourth team spot.

Equally as impressive were the B team, most of whom are relatively new to championship cross-country running. Mike Moorcroft led them home in 37th, closely followed by Dave Harris in 39th, Dave Reading 40th and Mark Hazlewood 44th for a total of 160 points and ninth.

There will be a report next week on how Chichester’s youngsters, also running at Lancing, put themselves in contention for the Sussex team for March’s English schools cross-country championships at Taunton.

PHIL BAKER