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Athletics: Double delight for HAC with success at two county championships

Athletics / Mon 2nd Aug 2021 at 07:00am

THE County Championship weekend, postponed from May, finally took place over the weekend. Harlow had a small number of athletes at Watford as Hertfordshire residents, and the majority of its competitors at Chelmsford for the Essex championships. Numbers were down, due to Covid and the switch of date, but the quality remained high throughout.

Three athletes competed on Day One of the Hertfordshire Championships: Freddie Henderson added to his indoor haul of county medals by taking silver in the U20 100m. Emil Atkins, competing in his first championships as an U13 claimed bronze in the 800m. He was run out of second in an exciting fight to the line by half a second. At the same distance in the girl’s event was Isla Garrett. She too was narrowly pipped at the line to end the race in fourth place.

Day One at Essex was just as successful:

Beth Harryman competing as a Senior Woman for the first time, took two silver medals. The first came in the 100m hurdles behind an impressive performance by Hayley Mclean, of Havering, just returning from the birth of her third child. Her second came in the long jump, in a competition fraught with challenge. The athletes were not helped by swirling wind and Harryman in particular was not helped by the mismeasurement of a jump and an official crossing the runway as she made her approach. The affected jump was expunged and she was allowed a retrial. It was this jump that secured the silver position.

Millie Upton jumped in the U20 triple jump, an event that injury has prevented her from participating in for two years and that she last participated in as an U15. Perhaps due to feeling no pressure, she jumped fluently and ten metre jump was good enough to secure silver. Unfortunately, this was as good as the weekend got for Upton. She did return for Day Two and the high jump, but a recurrence of a recent injury forced her withdrawal.

The rest of the day’s success all came in the sprints. Regan Lawrence clipped barrier eight and lost momentum to end up taking fourth in the U20 100m hurdles. Then, in atrocious conditions, James Petty came in third in the U20 400m.

The weather improved for the 100m in which there were semi finals to negotiate. Whilst she did not win a medal, Holly Austin ran impressively in the U13 event. She qualified second from her heat and was sixth in the final. This was a fine achievement as she is only a first year U13 and was up against girls a year older than herself.

Marley Sarling and Edward Brown both qualified from their respective heats and it was good to see two Harlow vests in the final. The final’s winner was Michael Onologbo, the recently crowned European U20 champion. Sarling ran an excellent race to claim bronze and Brown was sixth in a blanket finish at the end of a quality race.

Day Two saw early success, literally, as James Malyon and his fellow steeplechase competitors raced at 930am. This was Malyon’s first outing at 3k distance, having competed at 1500m and 2K in recent league matches. The step up in distance didn’t appear to faze him and he ended with a well-earned U17 silver medal. The long distance success continued as Erin Francis ran her first ever 3K on the track. She was also a silver winner in the U17 age group.

On the field, Beth Harryman returned for the high jump. She won the senior women’s event with a jump of 1.70m. This feat had added significance as she has now hit the four targets required to be considered ‘elite’ for multi eventers and the door has now been opened to additional practice facilities, coaching and medical support.

In the afternoon, attention turned to the 200m. Like the 100m on Day One, the event was strongly supported and rounds were required leading to finals. There was mini-drama in the U13 girl’s event as Holly Austin, thinking she had lost her chance to reach a final, was already heading home. Fortunately, the call to return as one of the four quickest outside of the top two, was heeded and she came seventh in the final to conclude a personally successful weekend.

The rest of the action, as far as Harlow were concerned, was in the U20 event. Regan Lawrence, Edward Brown, James Petty and Marley Sarling all made the final. It was a very proud moment for the club to see four Harlow vests make up half the field for a final. Sadly, Petty pulled up coming off the bend with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. Onologbo was once again victorious and again Sarling took bronze. Brown and Lawrence were fourth and fifth respectively.

Reflecting on the weekend, club Chair, Steve Lott said; “Four field, four middle and long-distance and six sprints and hurdles medals is a fantastic haul for a small club such as ours. The fact that there is such a balance is testament to the coaching collective and I cannot thank enough those who give up their time voluntarily to give the opportunity for our athletes to perform so well. Congratulations to the athletes and the coaches who have all worked so hard in difficult times to achieve this success.”

International news

Away from County events, Bebe Jackson has been selected for a Team GB U20 para team at the Manchester International. And Shemar Boldizsar has been selected for the England team in a home international in Cardiff and a Team GB team at the same event as Jackson in Manchester. Congratulations to both athletes.

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