Herne Hill Harriers Great Britain under 20 international sprinter Kristal Awuah opened her season in fine style at the Loughborough International meet on Sunday with a personal best 100m time of 11.58 seconds.
Awuah, who was representing the Great Britain Junior team against seniors set a qualifying standard for the World Junior Championship in Tampere in July. Placing second in her race, she finished just 0.05 seconds behind race winner, Olympic bronze and World silver medalist Daryll Neita. Awuah’s time was set against an unhelpful headwind of 1.2 metres per second and she was understandably happy with her performance in her first race of the outdoor season, having topped the UK under 20 women’s indoor 60m rankings earlier this year.
Also at the Loughborough match in the men’s sprint races Herne Hill’s double BUCS Champion Marvin Popoola placed sixth in the main 100m race in 10.69 and was then fifth with 21.75 in a strong 200m race against a 1.5 metres per second headwind, performances which consolidate his recent strong form.
Closer to home in Wimbledon Park, also on a warm Sunday afternoon, Harriers are provisionally shown as match winners by just two points in a Southern Athletics League fixture for men and women. After winning their first match the Herne Hill team have put themselves into the frame for potential promotion to Division 2 of this league.
15 year old Memphis Ayoade, now captain of the men’s team, demonstrated why as he was first to arrive, first to compete – winning the A string High Jump in 1.83m and was the last to step off the track at the end of the afternoon with a magnificent 50.5 spilt in the 4 x 400m relay. Earlier he had also won the A string 400m race in 52.2.
Decathlete Dan Ryan also made his presence felt as he was competing in preparation towards his target of competing for Ireland in the international combined events Junior championship. Ryan ran the A string 100m, coming second in 11.4, covering for a late athlete, then won long Jump in 6.84m and later on threw the javelin and discus, winning both.
The rest of the juggled sprint contingent performed well. Kehinde Adenuga ran a magnificent bend to put him in a great position for a battling second place in the 200m soon after Michael Kale had stormed to a B string 100m win in 11.7. Micah Goode stormed to a fine B string win in the 200m with 23.9 and later in the afternoon won the B string triple Jump with an excellent 11.72m.
In the women’s sprints Cara Russell and Esther Fuja pulled off an impressive win, win in the A and B string 200m races in 25.9 and 26.1 respectively, both several metres clear of the opposition.
The middle distance group had a magnificent afternoon. Mike Cummings ran out to a fine solo win the 1500m in 4.06.2. In the B string young Charlie Krammer, 14 years old, raced incredibly well to beat a number of A string men, winning the B string race in a big PB of 4.24.4. In the A string 800m, 45 year old Simon Coombes (a recent European Masters medallist) produced his best time for three years, coming up with a well- judged win in 2.05.0. He was ably supported by another vet, Dan Hallam.
In the men’s 3000m Alex Hobley ran a strong PB of 9.14.7 for second and Conor Donaghy ran only his second ever race at the distance and knocked 27secs off of his PB, running 10.07.9. In the steeplechase, Sam Knight knocked a massive 14 seconds off his best with a well -judged race for second place in 10.45.2 in the 3000m steeplechase.
The middle distance women were led by female track team captain Steph Mitchell, who managed her considerable reserves to produce a win in both the 400m and the 800m. She also filled in the 4 x 100m relay and ran second leg in the winning 4 x 400 relay team.
Eimear Griffin chased her home to win the B string 800m. In the 1500m Ella Newton won the A string race, getting an English Schools Championship qualifier with 4.41.9 and Natasha Lodge knocked another 9 seconds off her last outing to win the B string in a PB run of 4.43.7. Newcomers to track racing, Shannon Sinclair ran a PB 5000m of 19.36 and a very brave Amanda Maserati provided grand support. Both will go faster with experiences.
In the field events Ryan was not the only performer. Alex Tischler produced what is becoming his customary win in the javelin. Aaron Brown won the A string triple Jump, while Dejean Marshall Brown and veteran Des Austin pulled in big points all afternoon with a string of wins and second places in other throwing events. Jess Collins had another fine high jump completion with a clearance of 1.50m.
14 year old Dionne Augustin ran the 100m, filled in the hammer, ran the first leg of the sprint relay and in the javelin threw 20.66m with the senior women’s weight of implement for third place. The relays at the end of the meeting produced some very fine efforts. Herne Hill placed second in the men’s long and short relays in which Kehinde Adenuga and Te Sing Burley ran both.
However it was the women’s 4 x 400m relay which provided the most inspirational moment of the day. The race immediately beforehand was the 1500m women’s steeplechase where Zoe Tompkins produced a terrific PB to win in 5.21.0 with Katie Balme winning the B string with a good 5.35.2. Straight after this, a 4 x 400m team of Steph Mitchell, Natasha Lodge and the two steeplechasers, Balme and Tompkins. Lodge handed over in third place, Mitchell moved up to second then Bame ran the third leg, losing second place on the back straight but battling up the home straight to regain it. Tompkins set off some 30m behind the race leaders, storming off with the clear intent of catching up and not merely retaining second place. Coming into the home straight she closed and closed and grabbed the victory with a half metre to spare in a wonderful split of 62.1.
A moment that captured the mood of the team and their desire to win and which can hopefully be carried forward into team performances for the remainder of this season.