No less than four Herne Hill Harriers teenage athletes were on international duty over another action packed few days of competition, as well as both of the top senior teams representing the club at National League level, the men’s British League squad at Bedford and UK women’s league team in Glasgow.
Our first athlete in international action was on Wednesday 12 July. Mollie O’Sullivan raced at the Welsh Athletics International in Cardiff. In her international debut racing for the England South Under 20 team, O’Sullivan ran to a clear victory in the women’s 800m with a time of 2.11.66, almost a second ahead of the second placed athlete . Not only did she win her race, but her performance saw her presented with the award for the female athlete of the match. O’Sullivan is following in fast Herne Hill footsteps here, as senior star Katie Snowden was also a winner of the women’s 800m race at this meeting representing England South U20s in her days as an up and coming junior athlete.
Harriers’ next international gold medal winner was in Dublin on Saturday 15 July, competing for an England Schools team in the annual SIAB International, a match between the home countries schools champions and runners up in the Under 17 age groups. Ore Adamson is fast becoming one of the stars at Youth athletics level in the UK and further emphasised both her talent and her dominance of her age group as she won the female long jump competition with her first ever leap of 6.00m. Her nearest challengers were two very good Irish jumpers, but Adamson’s latest personal best takes her beyond another barrier target as she progresses at an exciting rate towards the next age groups, where she has already challenged many of the better Under 20 women in the country.
Herne Hill also supplied two other athletes on the podium in Dublin, as Charlotte Alexander followed up her excellent silver medal at the English Schools Championship in Birmingham with another fine second place performance behind the same athlete in the 3000m in a time of 9.58.03. Alex Brown was also able to win herself yet another medal for her incredible collection, as she claimed the 1500m bronze in a very close battle to the line, her 4.34.77 being only just behind the young ladies from Wales and Ireland with whom she shared the medals rostrum on this occasion.
In National League action, the final results of the British League National Division 2 match at Bedford on Saturday 15 July are yet to be confirmed, but the Herne Hill Harriers flagship senior men’s team are confident they came home with a vital team win that would put them right back into contention for promotion to Division 1. Going into the match in fourth place of the eight teams in a very closely fought division, the first priority was a strong result to ensure top half of the table safety. However the Herne Hill team on paper looked capable of challenging to win the match and so it may have proved. It is likely that Harriers’ will have moved to second in the overall standings going into the fourth and final fixture at Lee Valley next month and if so another match win would guarantee promotion.
Herne Hill’s superb all round team performance was led by multi event man Thomas Ashby, who contributed a huge 63 points to the team score from his individual events and he kicked this off with an early win in the A string discus, throwing 44.11m. Harriers’ middle distance runners again did the team proud as Lascelles Hussey in 1.55.69 and Lewis Lloyd with 1.57.25 both emphatically won their 800m A and B strings off very slow first laps. Mike Cummings very nearly pulled off what would have been an exceptional gun to tape victory in the 1500m in the obligatory Bedford wind but was ultimately denied in the final straight, nevertheless finishing a close 2nd in 3.58.27.
Herne Hill sprinters were also in fine form, as Marvin Popoola placed a good second in the A 100m in 10.61, his fastest time for three years before then winning the A 200m in 21.54, with Byron Robinson winning the B 200m in 21.97. Idris Ojuriye placed second in the B 100m and the 4 x 100m relay team of Tshon Carnegie, Robinson, Nicholas Atwell and Ojuriye were also second across the line.
In the 400m races, Atwell only just failed to catch the winning A string athlete at the finish as he was also second in 48.54, while Peter Phillips won the B 400m in 49.44. In the field events as well as Ashby’s discus win, Michael Wheeler won the A shot put with a big season’s best throw of 15.28m. Stuart Thurgood was second in the A hammer with 49.14m, while Ashby was also able to secure second place points in the B javelin with 43.30m at a time when the rain fell heavily to hamper chances of longer throws.
Harriers’ UK Women’s League team took the long journey up to Glasgow to compete on Sunday 16 July and the wind blowing in Scotstoun Stadium made the conditions in Bedford the day before seem like a very light breeze, meaning the races were all about points scoring and not times.
Mollie O’Sullivan ran a tired 800m and 400m combination, but showed dedication to her club team in making the trip to Glasgow after having won in Cardiff in her international debut on Wednesday. Zoe Tompkins ran very well to place second in the B string 400m, while Helena Corbin’s dominant second lap B 800m win was reminiscent of Hussey and Lloyd in the British League a day earlier. Herne Hill scored maximum points in the 1500m as Chloe Tighe took the scalp of another runner who has a much faster 800m PB than her as she delivered a tactical master class and Fiona de Mauny also ran very smartly to guarantee her B string win in this race.
Ella Newton ran well for fourth in the A 3000m followed in by Natasha Lodge, who was commendably close to her PB given the weather as she was a clear B string winner. Middle distance athletes effectively ensured that Harriers remain in this league as seven of the ten team members who travelled north of the border were runners with the others being two throwers – Hazel Robertson and Charlotte Nicholls who covered three events each, plus sprinter Michelle Watson who ran 100m, 200m and the sprint relay. The latter was together with Newton, Lodge and O’Sullivan, while de Mauny, Tighe, Tompkins and Corbin all ran superbly to place third in the final race of the day, the 4 x 400m relay against mainly specialist 400m runners.
The Herne Hill women’s team placed sixth in the match and finished fifth in the final UKWAL Division 3 table to ensure that both senior men’s and senior women’s teams will represent Herne Hill in the national leagues again in 2018.
To conclude a very hectic weekend fir the club, Herne Hill Under 15s and Under 13s travelled to Bedford on Sunday 16 July to compete in the Youth Development League Lower, Match 4, Bedford, where our provisional match results showed Harriers placing fourth on the day, which would also ensure overall fourth position in the division for this season, an excellent effort on the part of all who have been involved.