Marvin Popoola is Herne Hill Harriers Fastest Man!

The weekend saw the British Athletics League BAL Big Saturday at Bedford, a vibrant and busy affair which hosted six different matches in a day featuring five national men’s league athletics divisions plus the additional attraction of a televised football side show from Russia which also proved popular with the English attendees at least.

Herne Hill Harriers were competing in BAL National One after placing eighth in the first two fixtures and although now doomed to finish the season at the bottom of the second tier in British men’s club athletics, the team rallied to at least secure an improved seventh on the day.

The meeting had its share of international athletes and a League record was set in the 100m in Herne Hill’s match, the Windsor athlete clocking a fast 10.21. In second place was Harriers’ former Great Britain Junior sprint representative Marvin Popoola, who returned to form last year after three years of injury and has this summer now recorded PBs at both 100m and 200m. Popoola’s superb time of 10.45 at Bedford eclipsed a club men’s record that had not been beaten in well over half a century, albeit had been equalled by other club members on one or two occasions.

In major championship action at the European Athletics Under 18 Championships in Gyor, Hungary 16 year old Charlotte Alexander made a bold attempt to win a medal in her Great Britain debut, eventually placing a superb ninth in Europe over 3000m in a time of 9.41.18 in very wet weather conditions. A steep learning curve and Alexander will seek to build on this big meeting experience as she realises her enormous potential in the coming months and years.

At the prestigious Eltham BMC Grand Prix meeting late on Saturday afternoon as most of the nation were in crazed football celebration mode, Katie Snowden bounced back from her fourth place at the previous week’s British Championship 1500m with an excellent win in the women’s 800m A race in a fine season’s best of 2.01.75. Second in the race was an athlete from Sweden no less!

For good measure in addition to Snowden’s super race victory Ella Newton won the women’s C 1500m race in 4.35.20, just outside her PB and Georgie Grgec clocked a PB of 9.32.02 in placing fifth in the women’s 3000m. There were also very solid runs from Saskia Millard in 4.31.87 and Lewis Laylee 4.09.11, both over 1500m and Annabel Hobday was timed at 2.18.10 for 800m.

At the Bedford Big Saturday meeting, no Herne Hill athlete was able to win an event amongst such high level of opponents, but those who finished in the first three were Rushane Thomas 14.46 second in the A string 110m hurdles, Samuel Adeyemi second in the B 400m in 48.17, Nicholas Atwell third in the A 400m 49.42, Mike Cummings third in the B 1500m in 4.06.30 after having earlier placed sixth in the A 800m, Charlie Maw third in the A pole vault clearing 4.40m and Allandre Johnson third in the A javelin, throwing 61.58m. The afternoon was rounded off with the 4 x 400m relay team’s bold bid for victory, leading at halfway and eventually placing an excellent second through Peter Phillips, Adeyemi, Isaac Ogunlade and Atwell.

On Sunday Herne Hill’s women’s national league team travelled to Liverpool. Fiona de Mauny and Helena Corbin both won their respective A and B 800m races by big margins. De Mauny ran 2.15.22 looking much better than in a disappointing race at the Eltham BMC 800m the night before and Corbin won by an even greater distance with 2.20.44.

Under 20 Zoe Tompkins came second in the A string 400m hurdles in a PB of 66.64 and was then second in the A 400m in a good 60.47. Corbin was also second in the B 400m in 61.90. Jessica Craig flew from Northern Ireland to race and was another second placer in a strong A string 1500m in 4.38.77, a race she led until the final lap. De Mauny was improving as the weekend unfolded and scored a good B string 1500m win in 4.47.08.

Harriers sprinters also raced well, with Lillian Matamola and Esther Fuja both placing third over 100m, returning times of 12.52 and 12.70 in the A and B races respectively. They then followed up with fourth and third in the A and B 200m, Matamola running 27.03 and Fuja 26.60.

There was a nice finale to Herne Hill’s weekend of hot competition in very hot weather as the four middle distance women in a team of nine athletes combined to totally dominate the 4 x 400m relay, winning in 4.02.53. Corbin kicked off with 61.8 leg, de Mauny turned a narrow lead into a good one with 59.5, Craig extended it with 61.5 and Tompkins brought the baton home a long way ahead with a split of 59.8 seconds to send the Harriers team home to London happy with their day’s work.

Geoff Jerwood