Athletics: Lee is a happy valley for Harlow youngsters

Athletics / Tue 24th Oct 2023 at 07:51am

ON Saturday 21 October, Lee Valley played host to the first of three events for junior athletes, up to school year seven, that will be spread out across the indoor season, from October to March. With such limited competitive opportunity for athletes in this age group, they came from far and wide: vests from as far as Gloucester and Cornwall were in evidence on a busy day of competition.

Harlow Athletic Club was delighted to be represented by nine young athletes. There should have been more but, sadly, a bout of illness meant that several could not participate.

Three, Kenny Holt, Lucas Sawetz, and Alice Gordon were making their competitive debuts. Holt was the youngest competitor, and he took part in Year 4 events. His most notable performance came in the 60m hurdles. Male hurdlers are a rare breed indeed and so his enthusiasm for the event needs to be nurtured.

Lucas was in Year 6 action and he, too, enjoyed a satisfying debut. Technical events such as high jump are difficult to train in the winter when there are no indoor facilities available. Despite the lack of practice opportunities, Sawetz opted to take part in the high jump. His best jump was 1.25m and clearly there is more to come from this young man.

Alice Gordon took part in Year 7 events and had a good day all round. She ran 9.58s in the 60m sprint, 33.03s in the 200m and jumped 3.34m in the long jump. Having only joined the club in September, these were encouraging performances, indeed.

Three more experienced hands, all of whom have taken part in previous events indoors or outdoors, took part in Year 5 competition.

Reggie Stanley-Kinsella is turning out to be more than simply a distance runner. Whilst he loves running, and he did run the 600m in 2.09.97 mins, he saved his best performance for the long jump. He recorded a mark of 3.40m, which was a huge new PB.

Cian Casey-Bond showed his growing versatility by sprinting, running distance, and throwing the indoor javelin. The pick of his events came in the 60m where he recorded a time of 9.76s.

Skyla Simms-Johnson, perhaps, enjoyed the best day of all the Harlow Athletes as she recorded three new PBs. She was fifth in a very quick 60m heat but her time, 10.18s, was three tenths quicker than her previous time. 35.23s in the 200m was fully three seconds quicker than her last 200m run. However, her very best came in the long jump. She looked to have jumped quite long with her first attempt, but a finger drag meant that a much lower distance was recorded. In Round Two, she jumped just as far, without dragging this time, and recorded 3.52m. 

Two other athletes participated in Year 6 events. Lewis Brekkeflat opted to compete in only a single event, and it turned out to be a very good choice. His approach to the board in the long jump was perfect, with millimetres to spare before the no jump indicator and he sailed out to another 3.52m jump for a Harlow athlete. Once again, this was a huge new PB.

Darcie Bruce performed well, despite a harsh timetable for her chosen events. Year 6 girl’s long jump, high jump and 60m were all scheduled at overlapping times, meaning it was difficult to focus and prioritise performance. Nevertheless, she ran and jumped well. Her best performance was a PB of 1.15m in the high jump.

Saoirse Casey-Bond competed at Year 7 level and did so in the 60m, 60m hurdles, 200m and long jump. Her most notable performance came in the 200m. She was another to knock a significant amount from her existing best. Before this event, she had been hovering in the mid 33s range. On this occasion, she ran 31.91 and looked like there was still more in her tank. 

Following the success of last year’s Under 15 girl’s Cross Country team, the promotion of the senior team to SAL Division 2, and the various age group and senior individual successes, it is very encouraging for the club that there is a crop of youngsters below the recognised competition age all willing to compete and who look like they have bright futures ahead of them, if looked after and encouraged the right way.

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