Herne Hill Harriers staged our first Club Championship and Open Meeting of the season at Tooting Bec in weather that was often unseasonally wet, but this didn’t dampen the performances, a number of which were of good quality despite the competing attraction of the South of England Senior and Under 20 Champs at Ashford, where HHH athletes claimed 6 medals over the 2 days and conditions were even more extreme with the ubiquitous strong wind added to the regular downpours. The best HHH one-off effort of the weekend came at Tooting, where Cathy Ansell lowered her own club womens 5000m record below the 17 minute barrier in clocking 16.59.15 with a superb run. This time also qualifies Cathy to enter the UK Championship later in the season, where we would reasonably hope she will take her latest time down to a new level.
At Ashford top senior HHH sprinter Idris Ojuriye wasn’t quite able to win gold, but won 2 fine silver medals, being pipped to the post by only 4 hundredths of a second in the men’s 100m, clocking 10.94 seconds into a strong headwind of -4 metres/second after battling through heats and semi finals. Idris returned the next day for the 200m and 3 more tough races against the wind and his reward at the end of this gruelling schedule was another silver as he recorded 21.84 with a wind reading of -3.3 m/s. Idris is a quality sprinter who is improving every year and his sprint points are always a vital contribution to the HHH BAL match scores as we maintain and seek to build on our already strong team status at national level.
The HHH weekend would rarely be complete without a win for Katie Snowden and at Ashford she duly defended her Southern U20 women’s 800m title with a fine controlled front running victory that again illustrated her absolute class and drew numerous post race compliments from onlookers. With this win Katie again showed she is a racer as she added this title to those of Surrey U20 800m and Inter Counties senior champion as her gold medal collection grows ever larger. The wind rendered a fast time out of the question on this occasion, but her return of 2.10.37 was 4 seconds faster than the senior women’s race was won in.
Katie’s was our only gold at Ashford, but more silver medals were added to Idris’ contribution, as Funto Fabunmi-Alade, like Katie still only 17, placed a very good 2nd in the U20 women’s 200m in 25.63 against possibly the strongest headwind of the meeting, -5 m/s! Maybe not surprisingly Funto ran faster in her heat when only doing enough to ensure qualification for the final. Simeon Ramsey-Graham is another exciting HHH junior sprint talent and his excellent 2nd in the U20 men’s 200m in 22.14 completed the HHH silver set, while Paul Oluyemi claimed a senior men’s long jump bronze, leaping 6.82m, but he would be the first to admit this was a contest he could reasonably have expected to have won.
A further 3 HHH athletes finished in the agonising 4th position in their events, especially so for Jess Knight, a brave 58.05 in the U20 women’s 400m after running 57.99 in her heat and Rebecca Zelic, whose wind aided 10.89m in the U20 women’s triple jump is her longest to date, as both of these bright young athletes missed out on medals by quite narrow margins, but both are at the young end of the age group. Allandre Johnson also placed 4th, some way behind the medallists in a senior men’s javelin event whose winner was one of the most impressive of the championship, but he can be happy with his 53.77m opener to the season after having missed the entire 2010 season following a shoulder operation and was also competing just days after a family bereavement. Nicholas Atwell may have “only” placed 7th in the senior men’s 400m, but he succeeded in reaching a strong final which two of his good team mates were unable to qualify for. Not bad for a man whose 3 races this weekend were only his 4th, 5th and 6th ever at the one lap distance and underline the fabulous potential he must surely have.
Back at Tooting, there were some worthy efforts other than Cathy’s club record. It is difficult, even invidious to single out more than a very few, but youngsters Paul Burgess (1.45m U13 boys high jump), Breagha Campbell (2.29.81 U13 girls 800m and 1.40m high jump) and Georgie Hay (2.21.96 U15 girls 800m) are all deserving of mention, while Louis Keen’s U17 men’s shot putt of 15.79m propels him to 4th in the UK rankings for the season to date. Finally and probably most exceptionally, Saskia Millard, still under 11 recorded a great 1500m time of 5.08.18 which despite her youth, would rank her in the current UK top 20 for U13 girls and would before this season have been a club U13 girls record, but for 12 year old Breagha having set a faster time earlier this year. It is of course very early days indeed for Saskia, but she may potentially prove to be HHH’s most precocious young female middle distance running find yet, despite having some very tough acts to follow in the club record books.