Young Chichester athletes combine for star showing at Sutton

Four of Chichester's rising athletics stars who were in action at Sutton / Picture by Lee Hollyer
Four of Chichester's rising athletics stars who were in action at Sutton / Picture by Lee Hollyer

Chichester Runners & AC athletes competed at the Sussex combined events championships at a sunny but windy Sutton Athletics Centre – each giving an excellent account of themselves, and gathering a crop of late-season personal bests along the way.

In the under-15 pentathlon, Fleur Hollyer occupied third position throughout the first three events - long jump (4.21m), 75m hurdles (14.28sec), and shot (5.67m) – but the difficult blustery high jump conditions restricted her to a 1.29m clearance, and she slipped back to fourth spot.

With a strong and valiant run in the 800m in an attempt to close the gap back for bronze, her PB 2min 43.10sec clocking fell agonisingly just 61 points short – and tallied up a total of 1,998 points.

Cerys Dickinson (under-15), tackling the event for the first time, turned in a creditable performance – recording 3.65m in the long jump, a PB 16.49ec for 75m hurdles, 5.68m shot, and a good 1.32m PB high jump. She finished with the fastest 800m of her age group (2.34.70), to take her points total to 1,840 for a fine sixth position.

The under-13 age group saw three young athletes make their pentathlon debut.

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Twelve-year-old Amelie McGurk started well with 3.03m PB in the long jump, continued with 15.98sec in the 70m hurdles, and then a 4.72m PB shot.

She stuck to her task very well in the high jump, soaring to a new 1.23m PB, and ended with a competent and well-judged 800m run to finish fifth overall with 1253 points.

Eleven-year-old Alice Waterworth opened her campaign when she sailed out to a 3.46m PB long jump followed by a great PB 15.76sec 70m hurdles, and 4.53m PB shot.

She hurt her knee while warming up for the high jump and had to withdraw after only clearing her opening height – but she later recovered enough to run her 800m, and finish seventh overall scoring a well-deserved 950 points.

One of Chichester’s stars in their under-13 team a week earlier, Fionn O’Murchu, was in fine form at Sutton and very nearly came away with the gold medal.

After solid performances in the hurdles and long jump, the 12-year-old was near to his best with a 7.80m throw in the shot put and a clearance of 1.32 in the high jump.

With only one event to go, O’Murchu was training the leader by just 12 points with the rest of the field trailing in their wake. All was set for the final event of the day, the 800m, which is one of the Chichester athlete’s strongest events.

He knew a winning margin of just over a second would be enough and proceeded to set a fierce pace which did not let up until the finish. He crossed the line in a commendable 2.25.9, just over a second outside his best ever, at the end of a gruelling day’s competition.

His main rival Alex Riley of Brighton & Hove was having the race of his life and managed to cling on to O’Murchu’s pace to finish in 2 26.1 and win gold by the narrowest of margins and relegate his rival to silver. Both can be proud of their achievements, however, as their scores of 1,620 and 1,610 points respectively were good enough to put them 12th and 13th in the UK rankings for 2018.

* Chichester’s throws coach Andy Hall took a group of club throwers to the Bournemouth open meeting and was rewarded with a personal best of his own together with a number of best marks from his coaching group.

Hall once again reached 40m-plus in the hammer in his over-55 age group but it was in the 11.34kg weight throw where he excelled with a new lifetime best of well over a metre in the age category of 15.19m, a distance which would have comfortably seen him claim gold at the recent British Masters championships.

In the younger age groups, Alexia Everley was near to her best with a throw of over 22m in the under-17 women’s discus while Brooklyn Santer-Smith and Millie Grant were both setting new marks in the under-15 shot put competition.

They were both just short of the coveted 10m line with Santer-Smith having a best effort of 9.77 with Grant just behind with 9.66.

Both girls were rewarded, however, by making the UK top 100 with their performances.

In the same competition the two girls, who formed the backbone of the club’s successful under-15 Sussex final team, showed new confidence in the hammer. Grant was over 22m while Santer-Smith set a new best distance of 26.26m – again good enough to make the UK top 100.