Smith stars as Chichester athletes bring season to end

Ollie Smith is in fine form in 2015

Ollie Smith is in fine form in 2015

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Chichester completed their Southern Athletics League season with some encouraging performances at Aldershot.

But once again the squad was not up to full strength, meaning the club were not able to challenge for team honours.

The highlight for Chichester was the return to the squad of Ollie Smith, named man of the match for his 48.8sec clocking over 400m.

This came just after he was squeezed out in a very competitive 100m where he recorded a near season’s best of 11.3sec. Smith also took second spot in the 200m in 22.6sec and ran the lead-off leg in the 4x400m relay.

It continued a fine season for the 21-year-old a couple of weeks after reaching the final of the UK inter-counties senior championship. With a best time of just under 48 seconds, Smith’s consistency has been the hallmark of his season with no fewer than 20 sub-49sec clockings over 400m.

Smith’s appearance at Aldershot was good news for Brandon Bell, who was able to run in the B string races over 200m and 400m and was able to dip under 56 seconds for the 400m in a new personal-best of 55.5sec and claim runners-up spot.

It continued a fine season for the 21-year-old a couple of weeks after reaching the final of the UK inter-counties senior championship.

In his first year over 400m, Bell has gained maturity throughout the season and has managed the transition from the 300m, which he tackled in 2014 as an under-15.

There was the familiar sight of James Baker taking on the rest of the field in the 5,000m from the gun and crossing the line more than half a lap clear of his nearest rival in a respectable 15.39.6.

Having decided to call it a day over the barriers in the steeplechase, Baker then lined up in the 1,500m to sharpen his speed and claimed runners-up spot, having to give way to the finishing speed of the Sutton athlete over the last 200m.

This completes a remarkable record for Baker – he was one of the original dozen athletes in Chichester’s first league match in senior athletics in 1994 and has competed every year since.

Over the 22 years Baker has tackled every track race from 100m through to the 5,000m and steeplechase as well as filling in for gaps in the field events, especially in the club’s early years.

The 38-year-old was a vital member of the multi-promotion winning team which raced through the divisions in the former Southern Men’s League in the 90s and has been an inspiration to the new crop of juniors who will soon start their senior careers.

Four recent juniors were in action on Saturday in addition to Bell, with Michael Thomas supporting Baker over 1,500m and 5,000m and having a run over 800m.

Jack Blackman picked up useful points in high jump and javelin while there was a personal best for Grace Wills in the 1,500m with a time of 5.08.1, only having to give way to the Aldershot athlete.

As has been the case all season, Caitlin Moore was up against fine sprinters from all the other four clubs and was just outside her season’s best in 13.6sec over 100m.

One of the club’s most consistent parts of the squad over recent seasons has been in the men’s throws and this match was no exception, with Tim Brown leading the way with good support from Phil Kearney.

The day started with both over the 10m mark in the shot, enabling Kearney to win the B string with Brown third in the A string.

Brown went one better for a second place in the hammer with 35.88m throw, not far short of his best and just in front of two other throwers.

After joining up with Blackman in the javelin, Brown finished the match with another third in the discus with Kearney happy to pick up second spot in the B string despite being restricted to a standing throw, not wanting to aggravate an injury sustained in the pole vault earlier in the season.

After a short break following their summer fixtures, Chichester’s athletes are back in training from next Monday – August 24 – at the University of Chichester.

New members are welcome, especially those aiming for the winter’s cross-country season. Track-and-field athletes will also be keeping fit for their end-of-season fixtures as well as staring to embark on winter conditioning training.

The club’s main sessions are on Mondays and Wednesday from 6pm to 7pm at the university campus in College Lane.

For the juniors, school Year 7 and above can train on either evening with Years 5 and 6 restricted to a Wednesday. More information can be obtained from Phil Baker on philbaker5@btinternet.com or 01243 533784.

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