Second place is well worth celebrating for Chichester athletes

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Chichester’s latest crop of under-17 and under-20 athletes produced the club’s best-ever result in their National Junior League match at Portsmouth – finishing a fine second out of the eight teams competing.

Finishing only behind a strong all-round Southampton squad, Chichester got the better of nearest rivals Brighton & Hove and a combined Bournemouth & Poole team, while Havant & Isle of Wight, Basingstoke & Andover, Guilford & Godalming and host club City of Portsmouth were left trailing by some margin.

The overall performance was the result of some fine teamwork in both the men’s and women’s events spearheaded by fine individual performances.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the jumps with Isobel Brown, Katie Hardcastle and Nathalie Godden gaining a double clean sweep in the high and long jumps.

Brown has continued her form into this season and cleared a personal best of 1.72m to break her own club record and lift herself into the Sussex all-time top ten. Then it was Hardcastle’s turn in the long jump to record another consistent series of leaps with a winning distance of 5.22.

In both events Nathalie Godden was a capable deputy, winning the B strings with 1.55 and 5.06 respectively.

To cap a fine afternoon, these three athletes teamed up with sprinter Alex Fryday for a thrilling 4x100m win.

Elsewhere there was good middle-distance running from the Chichester quartet in spite of difficult blustery conditions.

Beth Garland and Georgina Warner had good third places in the 800m and 1,500m respectively with Lucy Thraves picking up near maximum points in the two B strings, while Polly Hounsome set another personal best in the 3,000m run against near gale-force winds in the notoriously-exposed back straight at Portsmouth.

Completing the women’s team were Tessa Shipton and Sophie Barrett, who showed great versatility and fine team spirit in the throws, gaining 40 points between them, while Shipton teamed up with Fryday for two unexpected second places in the triple jump to cement the team’s second place overall.

In the men’s events, there was just one A string win for Chichester – that in the 400m, in which Ollie Smith again dipped under 51 seconds with a 50.7 clocking, a very creditable time in the conditions.

He then set a new personal best in the 200m in 22.9sec supported well by Jack Holder, making his first appearance for the team with a 23.9 time in the B string following an 11.9 in the 100m.

With under-17 athlete Curtis Poole running the other two B strings, the trio amassed 42 points from their three events to keep Chichester up with the leaders.

Fielding just three middle-distance athletes in the four men’s events there was a brave run from James McKenzie in the 1,500m, just pipped at the post for a good second place in 4.25.03 after Greg Smith had gained sixth in the 800m with a sub-2.30 clocking.

A busy afternoon for Callum Adams saw him run in the 1,500m and 3,000m and opt to tackle the gruelling steeplechase at the end of the match and contribute 20 points to the team’s total.

Jamie Moore jumped a solid 3.50m in the pole vault and gained third in the high jump after teaming up with Horsham-based Matt Baker in the javelin for two second places – this after Baker had gained useful decathlon training in hurdles, shot and discus.

The result put Chichester third in the league with the next match at the same venue in Portsmouth on Sunday, July 10.

PHIL BAKER