Herne Hill Harriers again enjoyed a fruitful weekend, led by Katie Snowden racing in the BBC 1 screened Diamond League meeting in Birmingham on Sunday, together with the club’s main men’s track and field team at Lee Valley winning British Athletics League promotion to Division 1 on the same afternoon. Not to be outdone, Harriers young athletes had a busy weekend winning eight area individual medals at the South of England Under 15 and Under17 championships at Crystal Palace.
Snowden raced in very exalted 1500m company in the big meet in Birmingham, placing a good fourteenth in a top class field that included World Championship medallists and finalists. Although her time of 4.09.32 was a little outside her fastest this could be said of most of those in what was a late season race and it is an important progression for Snowden to now be competing at this level and with every chance of moving further forward. Among UK females this season only Snowden and Laura Muir have run inside the times that had been set as the British Athletics World Champs qualifying A standards for both the 800m and 1500m, other women have run one or the other, which is ample illustration of Snowden’s achievement in her first year at 1500m.
The Herne Hill flagship men’s team were promoted to BAL Division 1, which is the second tier of national team athletics and will rank as one of the top 16 men’s teams in the country in 2018. Although only able to finish sixth in the final match, an excellent win in the previous fixture at Bedford paved the way for Harriers to finish second overall in the final standings in the division table.
Individual event winners on the day for Herne Hill were Stuart Thurgood in the A string hammer, Idris Ojuriye the B 100m, Nicholas Atwell and Peter Phillips in A and B 400m and Michael Wheeler in the A string shot put. Second placed athletes were Seb Wilson Dyer Gough in the A long jump, Marvin Popoola in A 100m, while Mike Cummings was second in the B 800m and then fourth in A 1500m, supported in the latter by Simon Coombes second in the B 1500m. Thurgood added second in the B shot and third in the B discus to his hammer win, while the Herne Hill sprint relay team placed a close second in the 4 x 100m.
With the team’s best multi event athlete missing on the day making a promotion challenge far less of the formality it could have been, Harriers relied on Tony Macdowall to fill six events as he did long jump, high jump, pole vault, 400m hurdles and 110m hurdles around his main event the 3000m steeplechase for a very busy day, with Jeff Cunningham running the 400m hurdles and triple jumping in addition to his steeplechase as it was all hands to the pump for every possible point to ensure the team got over the line.
Herne Hill young athletes at Crystal Palace claimed eight Southern Championship medals, with an excellent gold being claimed by Charlotte Alexander in the U17 women’s 1500m. Her clocking of 4:33.77 saw her defeat five English Schools Championship finalists with a five seconds margin of victory which should set her up very nicely for the National Under 17 Championships this weekend at Bedford where she will contest the 3000m. Monae Winston was the other gold medallist from the club, scoring an excellent win in the final of the U15 girls 100m in 12.47.
Other Harriers medallists were headed by Ore Adamson placing second in the U17 women’s long jump, with her best leap of the day of 5.86m an agonising one centimetre behind the gold medallist. Memphis Ayoade took home two medals, a silver in the U15 boys 300m in 36.96 and a bronze in the high jump, clearing 1.75m. Kai Broadbent won bronze in the U15 boys shot with 10.55m, while Maisie Collis picked up a good bronze in the U15 girls 800m in 2:16.18 and Isobel Penniceard in the U15 girls 1500m stepped up in class to win a spirited four way fight for bronze down the home-straight in which she came out on top in a PB time of 4:55.84.
Harriers also contested a Southern Athletics League match at Perivale on Saturday, where the highlight was a club M40 shot put record of 12.87m for Stuart Thurgood the day before his exploits at the BAL match at Lee Valley.