Athletics
Youngsters in form at Games

16/02 Updated: 16/02 12:35

STRATFORD AC’s juniors once more showed their class and potential with some promising performances in the 21st Birmingham Games at the National Indoor Arena.

Rory Dwyer won the under 15 high jump with a clearance of 1.80m which was just 1cm below his pb set at the 2011 English Schools Championships.

Earlier in January, Dwyer had also shown his proficiency at the 60m hurdles during the Midland Counties Open with a time of 8.89 seconds.

Promising multi-eventer Alex Grant won the 60m by 0.06 seconds in a personal best 7.47 seconds.

Grant, with his distinctive upright style and powerful short stride, showed his speed and strength as well as his focus, as he managed to ignore a wobble in the blocks by the athlete three lanes outside him.

Grant, who beat his best previous time by 0.10 seconds, also improved his 100m time to 11.9 last summer, so is making rapid progress.

In the 60m hurdles, Grant looked even more comfortable, winning in a time of 8.67. Facing just two rivals, he maintained his form throughout the race and had something in hand at the finish. He has an outdoor 100m hurdles best of 14.3.

In the under 17 men’s 200m, Edward Harrison ran really well to finish 4th in 24.75 seconds.

Harrison coped well with the tight banked bends and showed his excellent speed endurance gaining on those in front in the final 20 metres.

Adriano Ritchie finished 5th in a high quality under 20 men’s 400m in 52.31 seconds. His time was just 0.25 slower than his time at last year’s event. He looked slightly leggy down the back straight on the 2nd lap and cruised over the finish line. Ritchie has an indoor pb of 52.06 and while he will have been hoping for slightly more from this performance, he still looked quick out of the blocks and full of early pace.

The under 15 girls 60m hurdles featured the multi-talented Anna Gamble and Felicity Bee.

Gamble finished 4th in 9.84 seconds, which was a new pb, while Bee was just one hundredth behind in 9.85, also a pb.

Bee was marginally quicker out of the blocks and to the first hurdle but Gamble utilised her long stride, pressing hard and asserting at the final barrier.

Consistency is vital in the early part of the year and having run 9.86 at the recent Midland Counties Open clearly Bee is doing well on that front.

Gamble made great progress in 2011, reducing her 75m hurdles (outdoors) time by almost a second to 12.49 seconds and, on the evidence of her Birmingham Games form, that time will be beaten very soon after the start of the outdoor season.

Both girls also competed and fought hard in the long jump. Gamble’s winning distance of 4.69 was yet another pb, this time by 7cm. Bee recorded a distance of 4.62 to finish a close second.

With only one previous run over the distance outdoors and no experience of running at an indoor event, Danny Tolhurst’s appearance in the senior men’s 1500m was about enjoying the opportunity to be amongst some really good athletes.

Tollhurst ran the first two laps ahead of his target time and was happy to achieve his main aim of avoiding being lapped! His time of 4.27.75 was a pb by 2.15 seconds.

Meanwhile, endurance specialist Chris Bacon decided a pleasant way to test his fitness after a recent injury was to take head south west and take part in the Hestercombe Humdinger.

It was not exactly an easy option, taking into account the 1500ft cumulative climb! However, Bacon described the event as ‘a great 9.5 mile race’ and he achieved a truly remarkable 12th place in a time of 1.02.22.

This was only slightly slower than in 2011 when he finished 6th in 59.30 in 2011 while in much better shape.

The course was a figure of eight starting and finishing at Hestercombe Gardens heading up into the Somerset Quantock hills, down again towards Cheddon Fitzpaine, and then back up a mile from the finish which was the sting in the tail. After an initial fast and flattish three miles feeling really confident, Bacon found that the first climb took almost everything out of his legs, as it ascended continuously for about a mile!

Once the highest point was reached, the route undulated through beautiful scenery for another three miles, lulling competitors into a false sense of security before a fast and steep descent which punished weary knees.

After a tiny respite the course climbed once again with some parts of the ascent at 25 per cent.

It was all downhill from that point and there was a relatively relaxing run to the finish, with competitors feeling fantastic about earning themselves the right to an extra sausage or two at Sunday lunch!

The race winner was Laurence Bolam of Sidmouth AC in 56.49, which was considerably slower than the 2011 winning time of 52.51, further evidence of the quality of Bacon’s run.

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