European U23 Bronze for Kristal and English Schools Gold for Keeran

Herne Hill Harriers sprinter Kristal Awuah claimed a bronze medal in the final of the women’s 100m at the European Under 23 Championship in Tallinn last Friday, while in the younger age groups six athletes from the club placed in the top five in the country in their events at the English Schools Athletics Association Championship in Manchester, held between Friday and Sunday.

Awuah comfortably won her heat on Thursday in 11.36 seconds after a delay to the proceedings due to a very heavy storm and then later in the day was a good winner of her semi final in 11.33, these being two of her fastest four times recorded so far in 2021.

Having run the fourth quickest time of all the athletes through the qualifying rounds there was the prospect of a medal and so it proved. A good start saw Awuah at the head of the field for around 80m before being caught by the German winner and only losing out in a silver medal by one hundredth of a second with her 11.44 clocking against a minus 1.3 metres per second wind.

Hopes of a sprint relay medal looked high after a very strong final leg from Awuah in the 4 x 100m heats on Sunday brought home a narrow win, but in the final Great Britain were one of three teams who were unable to finish and unfortunately the baton didn’t reach her on the anchor leg.

However, these results cemented Awuah’s already strong record as a championship performer. While a little disappointed not to win the individual final, she was pleased to be on the medals podium again, following her bronze medals in the 100m and 4 x 100m relay at the World Junior Championship in Finland in 2018.

At the English Schools Championship in Manchester the Senior Boys and Girls competed on Friday, the Intermediates on Saturday and the Juniors on Sunday, with A and B races being run instead of heats and finals in the middle distance races. In the Junior Boys 800m Keeran Sriskandarajah won the first of the two races in 2:01.17, half a second ahead of his closest opponent, only for his winning time to be exactly replicated in the second race, so the gold medal was shared by the two boys. A most unusual situation, but an excellent performance by the James McDonald coached youngster who has outstanding potential.

Also on Sunday in the Junior Girls shot put Victoria Alicante-King claimed a silver medal with 12.74m, just 6cm shy of the gold medal performance and her second furthest throw to date.

On Friday before Awuah’s bronze medal in Estonia, a Senior Boys bronze was won in Manchester by Ignatius Abebrese in the triple jump with his best leap on the day of 14.18m. Alexander Abebrese, younger brother of Ingnatius was a fourth medal winner from the club over the weekend, placing third in the Junior Boys shot put on Sunday, his 14.05m adding another bronze to an impressive overall tally.

Je’nae James missed a medal in placing fourth in the Senior Girls shot put with 11.45m, a PB by 4cm. On what was a very good weekend for Herne Hill throws coach Anthony Soalla Bell and his young shot putters, Omari Jackson-Whyte placed fifth in the same Junior Boys event in which Alexander was third, with his 13.48m, a PB by almost a metre.

Poppy Craig McFeely raced in the Senior Girls 1500m having had a disrupted build up with injury niggles and did well to finish ninth in 4:37.21, less than 1.5 seconds outside her PB.

At the Southern Athletics League in Battersea Park on Sunday, Herne Hill placed third team behind Croydon Harriers and Belgrave Harriers, scoring more points on the track than the other clubs, but current weaknesses in field events in senior competition left no real chance of an overall match win.

The middle distance athletes scored well, none more than Arlo Ludewick, whose five events contribution to the team points score was immense. He ran round the 400m hurdles in 68.3, then shortly afterwards won a decent quality 800m A string in 1:55.4. He later came second in the B 400m in 53.1, won the A 1500m in 4:10.5 and then ran last leg in one of the mixed 4 x 400m relay teams. Behind Ludewick, Jack Brotchie won the B 1500m also with a PB 4:17.0.

There was a Herne Hill 1-2-3 in the women’s 800m with Alexandra Brown 2:15.1 and Zoe Tompkins 2:20.0 scoring maximum A and B points and sister Kate Brown finishing ahead of all the other teams scorers in 2:24.5. Gaby Reynolds front ran all 12.5 laps of her 5000m to win in a tantalising 18:00.4, with Aimee Hargreaves making a good track comeback in placing second in the 1500m A string in 4:51.0.

Isaac Ogunlade scored a narrow win in the 400m with 50.3, while Yahia El-Tanani won the triple jump with 10.95m. Sprinters Byron Robinson and Adam Thompson were second in the A and B 200m races with 23.5 and 23.4 respectively. Fiona de Mauny enjoyed a quieter match after her previous epic multi middle distance events team scoring exploits, but did run a season’s best 400m of 59.0 in finishing second in the A string and then ran in the 4 x 400m relay.

The afternoon was rounded off with a mixed 4 x 400m relay in which two men and two women combined as a team in whatever order they preferred. Harriers A team of Thompson, de Mauny, Alex Brown and Ogunlade finished second in a good race, with Nathan Latigo, Tompkins, Kate Brown and Ludewick combining as clear B string winners in a fun event.

Geoff Jerwood