Deputies delight as Chichester athletes shine

Izzie Brown (second) on the podium at Bedford
Izzie Brown (second) on the podium at Bedford

Chichester’s senior combined men’s and women’s track and field team secured another solid third place in their match at Portsmouth – despite missing a host of regulars.

It was a chance for some of the club’s up-and-coming athletes to gain valuable experience at senior level and the squad did not disappoint, finishing with 253 points.

That was behind promotion-chasing Eastbourne on 325 and East Grinstead on 295 but well in front of Bournemouth on 171 and a depleted Poole team on 67.

It was a good all-round effort from the 20-strong squad who did well to fill the gaps created by athletes competing at the schools inter-counties match at Crawley, including team manager and club thrower Tim Brown. Another absentee, Izzie Brown, was successfully competing in the under-23 England championships at Bedford.

One area of the match where Chichester were able to show their usual strength was in the middle-distance events and nowhere was this more evident than in the 5,000m, where the club had five of the first six finishers.

James Baker continued his recent run of sub 16-minute times with an impressive 15.49.2 to pull clear and win after staying with the pack over the first few laps.

Filling two of the next three places were second-claim runners Simon Gill and Dan Bailey, both making first appearances on the track.

Gill was beaten only by Baker in recording a time of 16.48.9 while Bailey was a minute further back in 17.49.2, with only the Winchester A string in between.

Chichester’s B-string scoring athlete. Conrad Meagher, was just outside the 18-minute mark in 18.03.8 and scored maximum points for the event with Baker while veteran Steve Davy beat all the other league runners in 18.50.0.

Later, Gill teamed up with Meagher to score good points in the 1,500m while Baker was joined by Sam Reading in the steeplechase.

Another of the club’s top veteran runners, Jim Garland, made his first appearance of the season and was joined by Adam Croad in both the 800m and 400m with a 2.14.8, a club record for the over-45 age group in the 800m.

There was a youthful look to the club’s sprinters with under-17s James Austin, Joe Roman and Jordan Cooper all running well against fierce opposition.

Zac Hurst picked up useful points in jumps and hurdles while another of the club’s veterans, Roy Sargeant, teamed up with Phil Kearney to good effect with near maximum points on the shot their best result.

In the women’s events, there was another strong showing from the middle-distance events which stood out. Hannah Croad and Charlotte Reading were untroubled in the 800m to finish well clear of the opposition while Reading teamed up with Saskia Gardam in the 1,500m, again scoring maximum points.

The victory parade was complete in the 3,000m with Gardam in control from the outset and veteran Helen Dean a clear winner of the B string.

In the sprints, Mia Faulkner and Renae Brown battled well for Chichester while Poppy Wildsmith produced a good winning clearance of 1.48m in the high jump.

There was a mixture of youth and experience in the throws with under-17 pairing Lauren Cooper and Wildsmith gaining near maximum points in the javelin while Brown was joined by veterans Dean and Jenny Nunn to keep Chichester’s points tally rolling in shot and hammer.

The result left Chichester in a comfortable mid-table position with the next fixture at Horsham on Saturday, July 12, when the club hope to back at nearly full strength.

In the men’s events the return of decathlete Charlie Roe will make a big difference especially in the jumps, while another multi-eventer Nathalie Godden will make a similar difference for the women.

There are again a number of clashes of fixtures with the all-England schools championships on the same weekend but the club will be hoping that their mixture of youth and experience will keep the league momentum going.

South Downs Marathon and Half Marathon

An over-distance course did not deter Fay Cripps from having a fine run at the recent South Downs half marathon – nor did the challenging terrain around Butser Hill.

Finishing fifth overall in the race and as first lady by some distance, her time of 1hr 49min did not at first glance seem too remarkable.

But it then transpired that the actual measurement of the course was 14.85 miles instead of the 13.2-mile half-marathon distance, making the time that much more impressive.

The event was run in conjunction with a full marathon of 26.2 miles where Lee Neumann ran a fine time of 3.42.15 and was followed home for Chichester by Kevin Lockyear, whose 4.21.19 clocking was rewarded by seocnd place in the over-60 age group.

by PHIL BAKER