Chichester athletes show they’re still going strong 20 years on

Chichester Runners line up for action at Crawley
Chichester Runners line up for action at Crawley

Chichester senior joint men’s and women’s team produced their best performance of the season in their final Southern Athletics League fixture at Crawley.

The squad of 25 athletes were not disgraced to finish the match as runners-up to the home team, who were crowned league champions.

Chichester were too good for Eastbourne and Salisbury, both of whom occupied a higher league position before the match. This result gives the club a great platform for next season, when several more of the club’s talented juniors will join the senior ranks.

This blend of youth and experience was responsible for a club-record total of 254 points, almost evenly matched by the men’s and women’s section - but it was the men who accounted for all 5 of the club’s A string victories on the day.

Chichester are celebrating 20 years of league athletics and it was fitting that three of these five wins were achieved by middle-distance star James Baker, a member of the Chichester team as a 17-year-old in their first fixture and a consistent presence since.

A number of his incredible 500-plus career victories have been achieved on the track and Baker started the day with a dominant sub-15.30 display in the 5,000m to win by nearly 90 seconds. Less than an hour later, he was lining up for the 1,500m and after a steady opening two laps, left the field trailing with a sudden burst at the 1,000m mark to win by six seconds.

Baker was soon clearing the barriers in the 2,000m steeplechase and used his legendry powers of recovery to complete a hat-trick of wins, this time by 20 seconds.

Another who has been a mainstay of the club over the years is multi-eventer Shane Mott ,who joined the club in their second season in 1995.

Good second places in pole vault, triple jump and javelin and a B string long jump win were reward for a fine afternoon’s work and will give Mott the incentive to get ready for a 2014 decathlon now he has entered the veteran over-40 ranks.

Chichester’s other two A-string wins were from athletes who have come through the club’s juniors and have just entered the under-23 ranks.

Ollie Smith, 19, was delighted to win the 400m by a clear margin of nearly three seconds in a time of 50.2sec and pleased at the manner of his victory, leaving a group of talented athletes in his wake.

Charlie Roe, 21, had his usual busy afternoon amassing 27 points from his eight individual events, highlighted by a win in the high jump and a new personal best of 16.2sec in the 110m hurdles, although such was the standard of competition that he had to settle for third place.

Two more former club juniors offered support to Baker in the middle-distance races with Aaron Hancock notching aluable points in 800, 1,500m and steeplechase and setting a new best in the 400m hurdles.

Connor Mclarnon was in action for the first time this season on the track and followed a B string 800m win with a solid 5,000m. Tim Brown led the throws and picked up valuable second places.

The other five members of the men’s squad are all still in the junior ranks.

Tom Ackerman broke the 53-second barrier for the first time with a 52.9 clocking after lowering his 400m hurdles mark to a respectable 61.9sec.

Collins Alfred and Jake Emerson were in action against quality sprinters. Matt Dodd was an able understudy in the throws while Jack Graham picked up valuable points in the high jump.

The Chichester women showed a marked improvement, with competitors in every one of the 17 events. Alex Fryday and Caitlin Moore showed great sprinting speed with Moore getting the upper hand in the 100m with a 13sec personal best before Fryday took over in the 200m, with the two Chichester athletes splitting the Crawley pair, who are of national league standard.

Fryday set a new personal best of 62.4sec in the 400m with Mathilda Chisam in support. Georgina Warner and triathlete Linda Roberts set off the middle-distance events with two well-fought second places in the 800m while Warner and Rose Ellis repeated the success in the 1,500m with Ellis breaking the 4.50min barrier for the first time.

Roberts teamedup with Lucy Ellis to gain 17 points out of 20 from the 3,000m and steeplechase. Kezzie Turner and Lily Smith paired up in the two hurdles races over 400m and 100m to notch up another 15 points.

Amy Brown cleared a good 2.30m for second place in the pole vault and showed her versatility in high jump and javelin.

The women’s throws were led by Charlotte Honour, supported well by Jenny Nunn. Honour had good A string second places in both shot and discus with the 27 points from the four women’s throwing events a fine reward.

Match result

1 Crawley 329pts

2 Chichester 254

3 Eastbourne 204

4 Salisbury 159