Chichester athletes make mark on regional and national scene

Alyssa White and Rachel Laurie at Erith / Picture by Caroline White

Alyssa White and Rachel Laurie at Erith / Picture by Caroline White

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SIX members of Chichester Runners & AC represented Sussex at the south-east inter-counties schools meeting at Erith, Kent.

For some it was a final chance to impress the selectors before the final 60-strong Sussex squad is announced for the English schools championships next month at Gateshead.

Isobel Brown, recently back from the collegiate season in the USA, had to share the silver medal with two other athletes.

One athlete who has already booked her place is Alyssa White. Making her county debut at Erith, she recorded a sprint double, winning the A-string 100m in 12.41sec and the A-string 200m in 25.78.

Rachel Laurie, another member of the record breaking West Sussex West relay squad of the previous weekend and also a county debutant, was second in the B-string 200m in 27.08. Both were members of the fourth-placed Sussex 4x100m relay team.

Another athlete who has booked his place for Gateshead is Ben Collins who dipped under 2.05 for the first time with a 2.04.87 clocking in the junior boys’ 800m and was only beaten by the UK No1 athlete over the distance.

Hurdler Phoebe Mayhew has won titles at both county and schools championships this year and gained a fine third at Erith with a 12.2 over 75m, just a tenth of a second off her best.

Two middle-distance runners also made their mark and while not achieving top three places, came away with personal-best times. Grace Wills knocked a huge seven seconds from her previous 1,500m best with a time of 5.10 while Benedict Robinson improved his 1,500m steeplechase time to 5.29.6 in only his second attempt at the event.

Meanwhile, a trio of in-form athletes flew the flag for Chichester at the England under-23 and under-20 outdoor championships at Bedford.

In the high jump, Isobel Brown, recently back from the collegiate season in the USA, had to share the silver medal with two other athletes – with damp and windy conditions playing havoc with the jumpers.

Brown went clear at her first attempt at 1.70 along with four other athletes. Only one athlete cleared the next height of 1.75 which was the winning height, resulting in a tie for second and three athletes sharing the silver.

This competition signals the end of Brown’s season for 2015, and she was happy to finish on a high note.

Ollie Smith represented Chichester Runners in the under-23 400m, which acted as a selection trial for the European championships, attracting 26 high-calibre 400m athletes.

The format meant athletes looking to win a medal would need to race in a heat and semi-final on Saturday and final on Sunday.

In wet conditions Smith ran a season’s best of 48.07sec in his heat, just 0.09sec off his personal best. Two hours later he lined up for the semi-final knowing a similar time would be needed to make the final.

Again, in drizzling rain, he produced a strong surge down the final 100m to clock 48.32 and qualify for the final.

On Sunday the rain was replaced by gusting wind for the showdown which meant finishing position, rather than fast times, was the focus. Running out of an unfavourable lane one, Smith finished sixth in a time of 48.60.

The weekend was viewed as a success, given the consistency of performance across three hard races in challenging conditions. Smith’s next aim is to improve his personal best at the British championships starting on July 3 in Birmingham.

Meanwhile, Toby Harries was runner-up in the under-20 200m even though he is still in the under-17 age group with a time just outside his best of 21.01 in the adverse conditions.

He is waiting to see whether his time will earn him selection to the World Youth Games later in the year.

DAVID CHURCHER & PHIL BAKER

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