Herne Hill Harriers’ extraordinary weekend at the Surrey championships

Athletes from Herne Hill Harriers laid claim to 49 county medals at the Surrey track and field championships at Kingsmeadow last weekend, including a total of 21 golds across all age groups.

The 21 golden successes included Mick Harran’s 3km walk gold in the vest of Surrey Walking Club, making the septuagenarian the oldest holder of a Surrey senior title to date, while Penelope Cummings’ winning time in the women’s 3km walk was a new club record. Ore Adamson also extended her club record with 5.15m in the U13G long jump, which broke the Surrey championship best performance, with Saskia Millard in the U15G 800m, Michella Obijiaku in the U17W shot put and Rushane Thomas in the U20M 110m hurdles also setting new Surrey championship best performances in their events.

Although not quite breaking any records, England junior international Marvin Popoola produced some scintillating sprinting to scorch to personal best times of 10.66 and 10.58 in winning the U20M 100m heat and final, and his 21.64 clocking to win the 200m by an equally huge margin was also very impressive.

Marvin_and_Les Marvin Popoola and his coach Les Johnson after his super fast U20 men’s 100m win

Harriers were also in form on the road, with Simon Coombes placing second M40 and 62nd overall in the BUPA London 10,000, as he recorded 32.46, and was backed up in Herne Hill’s prominent senior men’s team by Abdi Madar and John Kettle, with Mohammed Ismail and Deron Fagan also racing in our team squad.

With so many successes at the Surrey championships, it was hard for Herne Hill coaches to select standout performers. Nonetheless, it was hard to look beyond the stunning showing from Popoola or Millard’s bold and committed front running which yielded her a finishing time of 2:12.91 that was not only a championship best time, but was faster than the winners of any of the three older age groups, including the senior women.

Meanwhile, Thomas celebrated a call up to the Great Britain U20 team for last week’s Loughborough International meeting with not only a personal best over the senior high hurdles, but a follow up best of 14.18 over the U20 height in revising his own Surrey record. Obijiaku’s championship best of 14.50m in the U17W shot put was at a new weight, so was an inaugural mark, but one that may prove difficult to surpass.

Senior athletes contributed well to our team haul, with an early bronze medal for Jonathan Stead in the senior men’s 5000m, which was soon followed by victory for Michael Wheeler in an exciting men’s shot contest and also women’s 100m gold for Jade Phillips, with Eva Joseph winning silver behind her Herne Hill counterpart. Liz Donnelly placed third in the women’s 400m with a sub-60 clocking. Spectators then witnessed an amazing one-two-three-four for Harriers men in the 200m final, courtesy of Dwayne Dowding, Peter Phillips, Byron Robinson and Jamal Rhoden-Stevens.

Dowding added 200m silver to his 100m gold on the second day of competition, before Tayo Andrews entertained spectators winning the U20M high jump by clearing 2.00m and then raising the bar for close attempts at 2.05m. Gavin Johnson added to his senior men’s javelin titles of recent years with a season’s best of 61.17m. The final track race of the weekend saw another Herne Hill one-two as Nicholas Atwell (48.40) edging Peter Phillips (48.48) in a thrilling men’s 400m, which had Atwell seeking photographic confirmation of his gold while Phillips was presented with his second silver medal of the meeting.

Herne Hill youngsters of also excelled as Oscar Millard won the U13B 1500m on day one, with Ed Olsen and Feysel Nadew second and third in the U17M 800m, while at the start of day two Alex Brown won bronze behind Millard in the U15G 800m. Mohammed Ali made a name for himself in winning the U13B 800m in 2:23.02 and enjoyed a victory celebration of the Mobot. There was a golden U13G double for Oreduwa Adamson in the 100m with 13.05 and the long jump with 5.15m. Chris Sinclair won the U17 men’s long jump, Adam Ssali claimed 100m hurdles silver and Phillip Thomas triple jump bronze, all in the same age group.

More U17M gold was won by Ed Olsen at 1500m in a tactical 4:13.63 after his 800m silver the day before and by Paul Burgess over 3000m in 9.09.81 in a race in conjunction with the U20M race in which Lascelles Hussey placed a good third ahead of Burgess (in a different race within races). Royan Moore was another silver medallist in the U20M shot.

Multi-eventer Breagha Campbell had a busy weekend with a couple of personal bests and won a bronze in the U17W high jump during a rainy part of Saturday. Natasha Alfred placed second in the U15G 100m in 12.52, while Lulu King and Abigail Cunningham were second and third in the U13G 1500m final. Finally, Clarissa Nicholls’ fearless gun to tape front running in the U13G 800m meant she too stormed to a clear victory and gold medal in 2:30.24.

Jonny Muir