Athletics: Harlow AC stars shine at English Championships

Athletics / Mon 28th Aug 2023 at 09:33am

FOR the first time in many years, Harlow had multiple qualifiers for the Age Group Championships. David Ezeama-Riok and George Watkins qualified for U15 events, Bebe Jackson for ambulant events, and Chloe Lewis for wheelchair events.

Ezeama-Riok, Jackson and Watkins were in action on Day One. Bebe Jackson was first up in the U20 discus. Sadly, she was really competing against only herself as her main competitors had opted not to compete, given that the English Championships were occurring after the British Championships. Nevertheless, she threw a consistent set of throws with every throw being legal and over 21m. Her best throw came in round three when she threw 23.55m for victory.

A very unsympathetic timetable had her going again in the 200m, only twenty minutes after the discus competition had ended. Despite the curtailed warm up, she ran 30.63s, a season’s best. With the competition being mixed categories of ambulant athletes, there was a short wait as RAZA points, a complicated seeding system designed to even out the challenges the athletes face, were calculated. And at the conclusion, Jackson had won the race.

Her day concluded with the ambulant 100m. Once again, the race contained a mixed category field and RAZA points were required to establish a winner. On this occasion, Jackson was second to complete a satisfying day.

Also, in 100m action was David Ezeama-Riok. He left it very late to make the qualifying standard, having only achieved it last week. At an event at Lee Valley last weekend, he ran an incredible 10.89s to become the countries number two, and to set a new age group record for Harlow.

He ran his first round in 11.05, with a legal wind, and qualified for the semi-final as the fastest competitor. In his semi-final, he ran 11.12. The final was very late in the day and was well worth waiting for, for the dwindling group of spectators. In a blanket finish, five hundredths of a second separated the top five athletes. Redman, of Folkestone was given the verdict in 11.14s and Ezeama-Riok 11.17s was second.

Whilst his disappointment was palpable, he should be proud that in his first full season of athletics he has been to both the English Schools’ Finals and now the National Finals. Without doubt he is on an upward trajectory and is one to watch.

In between the rounds and finals were interspersed an array of long track events. George Watkins was there to run the 3000m. Looking at the times posted prior to this event the U15 3000m was going to be an event to keep your eye on and it didn’t disappoint.

Watkins went into the race with a plan to stretch the field early and executed it beautifully. He ran the first 200m in 32.3s and really stretched the fields. Some who tried to go with him suffered late in the race, whilst others were caught out by not covering this bold move.

The race, at half distance was at 4.55 minutes and the field had become heavily fragmented. The pace slowed a little in the second half, but the damage had been done; leaving a group of five, including Watkins, to fight for medals.

At the bell, the lead group was clear and Scanes, from Blackheath and Bromley, pulled ahead leaving the remaining four to fight for silver and bronze. There was an incredible tussle up the home straight and it looked like George had been run out of a medal. However, the third placed athlete was a guest from the Republic of Ireland. In his first year as an U15, Watkins had achieved a national bronze medal.

Ezeama-Riok was back in 200m action on Day Two and he was joined by reigning junior London Marathon wheelchair racer, Chloe Lewis.

Ezeama-Riok qualified for the final in 23.72s, fifth fastest. In the final, he was sixth. It was another excellent race and very quick with five of the top six registering Personal Bests. Ezeama-Riok was one of those and his new mark stands at 22.99s. Unsurprisingly, this time is a new U15 record for the club.

Chloe Lewis was at the championships to push in both the 200m and the 800m. She was fourth in the 200m in a time of 45.94s. In the 800m she won silver with a time of 3.20.16 minutes.

In the recent history of the club, there have been occasions where a single athlete has attended these championships namely, Shemar Boldiszar, Naomi, and Bethany Harryman and all three went on to represent England at some level. For a club the size of Harlow AC, and given the stringency of qualifying times and distances, to have four in the same season is a wonderful achievement and further reward for the athletes, and volunteer coaches alike.

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1 Comment for Athletics: Harlow AC stars shine at English Championships:

2023-08-29 11:28:29

Wow, really impressive!

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