Herne Hill Harriers youngsters enjoyed a memorable day at the London Stadium on Sunday, taking part in the Club Connect relays prior to the BBC televised Muller Anniversary Games Diamond League athletics meeting.
Five 4 x 100m relay teams from the club qualified amongst the best sprint relay teams within London and the South. Herne Hill had never had so many teams qualify and had never won a Club Connect relay which is always an extremely high standard.
Prior to the event the young athletes were thrilled to meet club mate Kristal Awuah who after her two superb 100m bronze medals at the World Junior Championship was selected for the Great Britain senior women’s 4x 100m team later in the afternoon. There was drama in the third relay race where Harriers’ under 15 girls 4 x 100m team of Shania McGrath, Natalia Webb, Niyah Costley and Je’nae James ran superbly and sped around the track in a new club record and fastest time in the year of 48.93 to win from Reading & Havering.
However the cheers turned to despair when it came upon the screens that the team had been disqualified for a technical infringement. After a protest and series of meetings with the track referee the team was re-instated to become the first team from the club to win at this prestigious event in what was a new club record. Indeed their time was the fastest in the country this year and the fourth fastest time ever by an under 15 girls club team.
In the opening race of the day our under 13 girls came a superb second with the fast finishing Sapphire Haley just failing to catch Shaftesbury Barnet. The team of Neveah Ricketts, Anna Roughton, Gabriella Enrico and Sapphire have worked hard and improved all summer and ran the third fastest time by any U13 girls club team in the UK this summer.
Both Herne Hill boys teams placed fourth in high standard races. The Under 13 boys team of David Oteng Ntim, Matthew Opoku, Dwyane Francis and Dante Clarke recorded a season’s best of 50.59 as did our under 15 boys team of Oliver Hector, Ryan Kingsbury, Kai Broadbent & Noah Ojumu in 45.61 The Herne Hill U17 women’s team of Michealla Pottinger, Ciara Hussey, Micheala Mensah and Cara Russell came 8th in 49.95 whilst in the main Diamond League events Kristal Awuah, who raced very well on Saturday in the women’s 100m to clock 11.39 was in the Great Britain seniors second team which finished fourth in the 4 x 100m relay to complete a superb day for the club on the big stage.
Meanwhile in midweek the Harriers female sub 4.30 for 1500m club continues to grow in size and strength. In 2013 when still in the under 20 age group Katie Snowden became the first Herne Hill woman to run inside this time when she ran a solo 4.27.15 to win the Southern Inter-counties age group championship by a clear fifteen seconds.
Fast forward to 2018 and this year alone has now seen seven Herne Hill female athletes below 4.30, the latest being at the Eltham BMC races on Wednesday where Charlotte Alexander set a club under 17 women’s record of 4.29.44 finishing just ahead of under 20 club mate Ella Newton who clocked 4.29.77, with both just behind Harriers senior athlete Georgie Grgec’s 4.27.73.
In the 800m races at Eltham Mike Cummings ran a season’s best of 1.56.72, as did Katie Snowden with her excellent 2.01.60, a time which reinforces her position in the UK top 10 women’s rankings for the year to date.
The Herne Hill Harriers Under 13 & Under 15 boys and girls teams will compete in the top tier of the Youth Development League Lower section next summer having won their match at Croydon on Saturday to clinch promotion. This division features the top six clubs in the South of England. The team went into the final match lying in third place in the division & needing to beat City of Portsmouth AC or Croydon Harriers to gain promotion in a division which had been very closely contested all summer.
In another tense afternoon Herne Hill pulled clear in the final hour of the meeting to ensure they finished not only ahead of City of Portsmouth who slipped to fourth place on the day but also nose ahead of the host club Croydon to ensure that both of the two South London clubs were promoted together. This was a superb team performance with all age groups and areas of the team contributing to the team scores with athletes showing great team spirit to help cover events to ensure the collection of valuable points as well as some superb performances.
In the U15 age group athletes such as Je’nae James (shot put), Eva Holland and Layla Wilkinson (800m), Noah Ojumu (200m) and Kai Broadbent (shot put) were returning from the previous weeks English Schools championships and all won their events on the day. Whilst Emily Callaghan won the U15 girls javelin with a new PB of over 34 metres despite only returning from a school trip to Malaysia the day before the match.
In the Under 13 age group star performers were Dante Clarke (5.45m long jump), Dwyane Francis (75m hurdles), Christo Chilton and Josh Lee Baum (800m), Zac Crowther (javelin), Sapphire Haley (75m and 150m) and Neveah Ricketts (75m) who were all event winners. But this was an age group where athletes really worked hard to cover every event with athletes even arriving with suitcases prior to going to the airport for their summer holidays!
Team work makes the dream work….