Chichester track and field aces have had a summer to savour

This year will go down as an unusual one for many sports – and track and field athletics is no exception.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 3:15 pm
Maya Solly has had a fine 2021 season

Many more open competitions were held after a virtual drought in 2020 and a tentative start was made to league competition. Championships were held first at county level and culminating in regional, national and English schools events.

Last weekend should have seen Chichester newest crop of youngsters in action in the Sussex Under-13 and Under-15 finals where many of the club’s junior have experienced their first steps in club competition.

However there have been some outstanding individual performances this summer from a dozen athletes including all-time club records set in the men’s middle distances events.

Ned Potter

Chichester’s 10K record holder Harry Leleu is based in Loughborough and fellow middle distance runners Will Broom and Ned Potter have also moved there to study.

Following a great summer from Broom and Potter, the trio now hold a total of five club records between them over distances ranging from 1500m to 10k.

After narrowly missing the club 800m record of 1.53.88 by two tenths of a second, Broom made no mistake over his favourite distance clocking 3.48.05 for the 1500m at Stretford in June. Potter, favouring tlonger distances, knocked Chris Zablocki from the club’s 5000m top spot with a fine 4.13.7 clocking in June.

Potter also ran 8.30.8 for 3000m at the K2 in July and lined up in the Loughborough open meeting mile race, finishing in 4.12.68, both new club best times. His 3.53.25 over 1500m also ranks in the top five club times.

In the English schools track and field Championships, two Chi junior were selected for their counties, all the more praiseworthy this year as team numbers were restricted.

Discus thrower Maya Solly did well to make the final eight. Now the all-time club record holder, Solly ends the year with a best of 38.93m, 11th in the UK under-20 rankings. Solly is third ranked from the athletes who are in their first year in the age group.

Competing for Hampshire schools, Josh Dunne gained selection for the 800m and ran a well-judged heat to make the final where he finished a magnificent fourth. A time of 2.02.12 was a new club record as Dunne knocked 15 seconds from his 2020 best.

One Chichester under-20 and a quartet of under-17s have also been making their mark on the track in Sussex and elsewhere, all improving their pre 2021 marks in the process, writes Phil Baker.

Fleur Hollyer has enjoyed her first season in the under-20 age group and acquitted herself well.

As well as a 27.23 time over 200m and 45.1 over 300, Hollyer’s best over 100m is 13.04. Her fastest of 12.98 was with a following wind.

Fellow sprinter Dominic (DJ) Barth has smashed his PBs on several occasions and now has times of 11.27 over 100m and an equally good 23.49 over 200.

The club’s middle distance trio have all been making inroads. Fin Roberson and Harvey McGuiness have slashed more than 20 seconds from their pre-2021 bests over 1500m.

The pair scored a convincing one-two in the Sussex schools championships and now hold best times of 4.12 and 4.14.8 respectively.

Joe McLarnon has been concentrating on the shorter distances and has made an eight-second improvement from his 2019 best with a 2.00.65 time over 800m. This among the best times in the county for his age but times of 24.36 and 53.9 over 200 and 400m also rank him highly.

Meanwhile, though competing in contrasting events, both James Baker and Andy Hall have shown age is no barrier in the sport.

Baker has had to endure his most frustrating time without competition during the past 18 months but the multi record holder over various distances from 5k to the marathon has resumed his amazing run of race wins with another dozen wins over different terrains. After a two year break he plans to defend his Chichester Half Marathon title as well as setting Parkrun records aplenty.

Top thrower Andy Hall has been enjoying his final year in the over-55 category.

A silver medal in the recent British throws championships saw Hall once again excel at the weight, where he has a best of 15.44m and the hammer where he has broken the 40m mark with the 6K implement with a best of 42.06.

The pair have also been competitive for the club’s senior team in the Southern Athletic League.