Chichester’s young athletes turn in five-star show

Chi Runners girls at Hillingdon - Nathalie Godden, Sophie-Anne Haigh, Caitlin Moore and Mia Faulkner  Picture by Joanne Brown
Chi Runners girls at Hillingdon - Nathalie Godden, Sophie-Anne Haigh, Caitlin Moore and Mia Faulkner Picture by Joanne Brown

A small squad of eight athletes travelled to Hillingdon for the first fixture in the upper age group of the National Youth Development League.

They came away with five individual wins and a number of fine early-season performances.

On the track, there was a 100m and 200m double from Sophie-Anne Haigh, who recorded respectable times of 12.8sec and 26.2sec into a headwind.

In both races the Chichester athlete ran a strong first half and had the strength to maintain her early lead down the home straight to the finish.

Supporting well were Mia Faulkner in the 100m and Caitlin Moore in the 200, both in their first competitions of the season.

In the field events, Nathalie Godden concentrated on high and long jump and was rewarded with a double win and showed promise for a successful season, not only in the jumps but also as a multi-eventer later in the season.

To cap a good afternoon for the four, they were runners-up in a fiercely-contested relay behind an impressive Ealing and Southall squad.

For the boys, Jay Lake recorded a win in his first match in the under-17 age group, having come up from last year’s under-15 squad with both Haigh and Faulkner.

The heavier weight of the implements in shot, discus and hammer did not seem to bother Lake, whose winning shot putt of 10.42m was the highlight of his day.

Matt Dodd was in action in shot and discus but was in the under-20 category with even heavier weights. He recorded good early-season marks.

On the track Zac Hurst opted for the 400m hurdles having exceeded his expectations in the club’s senior match at Bracknell. The result was a hard-fought second place, which Hurst followed with a flat 400m.

Jake Emerson was another competing in his first track match of the season and was faced with some of the best sprinting seen in this league with the winner of the 100m and 200m close to 11sec and 22sec. Emerson stuck to his task and will have gained much useful match fitness from the races.

The league has a break in May trying to avoid exam commitments for the majority of the athletes, but the team will be in action on Sunday, June 1, when Chichester will hope for a much bigger squad of athletes to challenge the other six clubs for team honours.

Charlie Roe produced another splendid all-round performance in the Woodford Decathlon, where he exceeded 6,500 points for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old’s final tally of 6,507 ranks him at this early stage in the season sixth in the UK rankings.

With the leading athletes at Woodford wanting to set down a marker for selection for this summer’s Commonwealth Games and European Championships, Roe was in select company.

The Chichester athlete started the gruelling two days with a new personal best in the 100m - 11.24sec - and notched another best mark of 48.24m in the javelin, close to becoming Chichester’s first-ever 50m thrower.

With a long jump of 6.77m and a good 1,500m to finish the two days, Roe can be satisfied in reaching this milestone so early in The Chichester senior team were glad of his services in their opening match but they will have to wait to see if Roe’s study commitments enable him to be available for their next fixture at Portsmouth on May 17.

Chichester’s undoubted star of the recent two major marathons held in the south has been Martin Barwood. The 32-year-old finished 101st in the London race in 2hr 35min 47sec.

Now based in the north of England, Barwood still dons the Chichester vest when competing and was rewarded with his second performance under 2.40. He is one of only three Chichester Runners to have achieved the feat, the others Paul Froud in the late 1980s and more recently James Baker.

For a club runner to be able to complete the 26 miles at less than six minutes per mile is still one of the ultimate challenges of the sport so a time of less than 2.37 is one to be cherished.

A further five Chichester Runners chased Barwood home in London with Lee Neumann leading the way in 3.11.53, followed by Colin Harley 3.32 15, Matthew Sheldon 3.43.46, Sandra Nemorin-Noel 4.47.18 and Carla Wood 5.35.45.

There was one Chichester athlete in the top 1,000 at Brighton - Keith Akerman finished in 823rd in 3.27.21, followed by Gareth Glass 3.34.11, Jan Hill 3.49.10, Amanda Godfrey 4.09.14, Carole Palmer 4.21 30 (runner-up in the vet 65 category), Rachel Ballard 4.37.35 and Alison Defries 4.45.30.

A record field of nearly 700 runners lined up for the latest race in the 2014 West Sussex Fun Run League match at Lewes.

A Chichester squad of 27 runners earned a near-perfect score of 82 out of 85 points and gave them second place on the day behind hosts Lewes.

It saw another career win for James Baker on his favourite multi-terrain surface in a time of 34.05. Now with well over 500 race wins, the 37-year-old shows no signs of diminishing his performances or his appetite for success.

Chichester’s remaining squad at Lewes (Sussex Fun Run League placings) were John Leonard 26th, Fay Cripps 32nd and 2nd lady, Keith Akerman 53rd, Nick Palmer 69th, Tom Blaylock 82nd, Mike Moorcroft 84th, Toby Reid 97th, John Betts 113th, Jan Hill 114th, Colin Harley 131st, Kevin Lockyear 133rd, Steve Searle 162nd, Amanda Godfrey 165th, Tony Cooley 166th, Phil Gaunt 170th, Catherine Frewing 173rd, Julia Hammond 177th, Kelly Reid 109th, Tracey Lockyear 208th, Jill Renson 252nd, Sue Baker 256th, Stephen McNally 284th, Michael Frewing 312th, Emma Searle 332nd, Dave Grunwell 386th and Lynn Harley 423rd.

Seniors who want to have a go at track and field athletics are being invited to attend the University of Chichester on Thursday evenings between 6pm and 7.30pm.

The sessions are for anyone aged 17 and above and members of the club will be on hand to offer advice in sprints, hurdles, jumps and throws as well as on all aspects of athletics.

No previous experience is necessary and the sessions will be free. They’ll run at least until the end of July and, if there is a demand, throughout the summer.

The refurbished clubhouse will be the meeting point, adjacent to the all-weather J track, which is the first stage of the proposed 400m full circuit.

Those interested can either just turn up or contact club secretary Phil Baker to find out more on 01243 533784 or by e mail at philbaker5@btinternet.com.

Reports by PHIL BAKER