Snowden Climbs to 4th in Europe and Herne Hill 3rd in National League Plate Final

Photo credit James Rhodes

Herne Hill Harrier Katie Snowden finished a superb fourth at the European Championships in Munich.

It was the 28-year-old from Balham’s third major international championship of a busy track season.

Snowden had raced at the World Championships in Oregon and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

She placed fifth in her 1,500m heat at Munich Olympic Stadium, producing a season’s best time at the distance of 4:03.76 to comfortably qualify as the fastest of the non-automatic qualifiers.

Then in the final, on a cooler and windier Friday evening, Snowden lined up in a field containing a number of women with faster times either this year or their lifetime bests.

She ran an excellent race to cover all moves until a strong surge from eventual winner, Great Britain team-mate Laura Muir took three athletes away from the rest with just more than a lap to run. Snowden chased hard and finished strongly enough to stay in fourth place with 4:04.97.

As with her recent Commonwealth Games final, and especially this time after finishing fourth, there were thoughts of whether a medal might possibly have been there, but this was certainly her best performance in a major senior championship to date and will give confidence in realising that a place on a podium at a major meeting is now almost within touching distance if current progress can be maintained.

Snowden will finish her track season with at least one more 800m and 1,500m on the continent with the dual aim of improving her current personal best times and banking an early qualifying time for next year’s World Championship in Budapest.

Also racing in an international event over the weekend were Georgie Grgec and Sophie Harris.

Welsh Athletics hosted a home countries international 5km road race event in Bute Park, Cardiff on Saturday evening which included elite men’s and women’s races and Grgec again made her mark among more familiar names on the circuit.

Grgec ran cautiously in the first half of her race before working her way through to catch second-placed Wales Commonwealth Games team member Jenny Nesbitt, only for the latter to edge back ahead in the final 50m as both athletes closed to within a couple of seconds of Scottish race winner Annabel Simpson on the line.

Grgec clocked a 5km road PB of 15:54, only three seconds behind first place and one behind the second athlete, while also being just three seconds shy of her own 5,000m track PB.

Harris was representing the Wales team on their home turf and after a fast first 3km had to hold on throughout a tough final section of the race as she nevertheless recorded a sub 17 minutes time with 16:58.

Harris placed 19th in the high quality field and was third counter in the Welsh team. She now turns her full attention to her wedding this coming weekend.

Sunday saw the climax of the National Athletics League season with the Grand Finals meeting of the Championship Division at the Bedford International Athletics Stadium.

The eight highest ranked clubs contested the Cup final and the remaining eight battled it out in the Plate final which involved the combined men’s and women’s team from Herne Hill.

After what had been an underwhelming previous two matches for Harriers after a promising first result, the lure of the finals drew a much stronger team turnout. They charged into an early lead and were second for most of the match before placing third.

The sprinters were in unstoppable form with maximum points scored in the men’s and women’s A and B string 100m races, the men’s A 200m, both 4x100m relays and the men’s 4x400m.

Myles Copeland-Naulty (U20) was a winner in all four of the events he was involved with, claiming the B 100m in 10.89, the A 200m in 21.90 and then was a member of both of the male-winning relay teams.

Michael Miller won the men’s A string 100m in 10.75 and was the anchor for the men’s sprint relay win, while the women 100m runners were even more emphatic with their winning margins.

Niyah Costley took the A race in 11.89, with fellow U20 Saskia King claiming a PB of 12.00 in winning the B string.

A strong start to the day came courtesy of clear wins for Isaac Ogunlade in the men’s A 400m hurdles with 54.70 and Ellie Jamieson in the women’s A javelin, throwing 38.67m.

Katie Balme won the last individual race in the women’s A 2000m steeplechase in 7:38.07.

Balme had earlier placed 2nd in the B 800m in 2:23.84 and 3rd in the B 1,500m in 4:53.27 – then went on to run the final leg of the 4x400m relay not long after her steeplechase win.

Herne Hill’s other individual wins were all in B string events. Brandon Dewar won an exciting finish to his 800m race in 1:57.98, Seve Loudon took the B 3,000m steeplechase in 11:09.55 and Jenny Nandi the women’s B 3,000m in 10:56.14.

Joyce Kalombo won the women’s B long jump just short of her PB with 4.90m, U17 Saul Cozier the men’s B triple jump with 12.02m, Tyson Oladokun the men’s B 400m in 51.13 and Sarah Grover the women’s B 1500m in 4:59.20.

The relays saw big wins for Judah Wallace, Copeland- Naulty, Byron Robinson and Miller in the men’s 4x100m, followed by Kalombo, King, Jaydine Robinson and Costley in the women’s sprint relay.

A quartet of Harvey Kande, Olunlade, Oladokun and Copeland-Naulty ran away with the men’s 4x400m.

A middle-distance combo of Grover, Natasha Lodge, Lily Newton and Balme finished second in the women’s 4x400m to round off a very successful day.

Geoff Jerwood