Kristal sparkles at England Champs and bags two World Junior Qualifying times and club records

The history of women’s sprinting at Herne Hill Harriers was re-written over the weekend of 16-17th July, as Kristal Awuah produced a stunning display of 100m and 200m running.  Coming into the championships as reigning England U20 100m and 2017 English Schools champion amongst numerous other accolades, Kristal has proved on many occasions that she is adept at getting into peak shape for the majors.

Despite her stellar record, not many would have expected what must have been at, or very close to, the performance of the weekend by any athlete at these Championships.  Her 11.37 semi-final performance, following wind 0.6 m/s, was one of the great pieces of sprinting we have seen amongst British juniors, elevating Kristal to top ten on the UK U20 all-time list.  Another measure of the calibre of this performance was that it ranks her 5th in the UK in 2018 for junior and senior women, and just outside the qualifying standard for the senior European Athletics Championships.

After such a stunning semi -final, the final victory almost seemed like a formality and Kristal duly dominated this race with an 11.50 clocking.  Also competing in the U20 100m, was Lakeisha Owusu-Junior who acquitted herself very well indeed as a first year U20, running a legal 12.21 in the semi -final, just outside her PB.

Kristal returned for the 200m on Sunday, and removed almost 2 seconds from her previous PB from the tight lane 2, to win her heat easily in a legal 23.66.  Had Kristal not already recorded her 11.37, this 200m would in itself have been a standout performance, dipping under as she did the World Junior Qualifying time.  Wisely, Kristal opted to not contend the next two rounds, and will look forward to competing at the World Juniors, Tampere, Finland, 10-15 July 2018.

Herne Hill athletes also featured in the middle distance events. Southern U20 and 2017 English Schools champion, Alex Brown, ran an excellent 1500m heat on Saturday to qualify for Sunday’s final.  Alex is a first year in the age group and was up against older girls with quicker PBs.  But Alex has demonstrated on many occasions over the years that she can get it right on the big occasion, and this championship was no exception.  Although fast times were hampered by a painfully slow first couple of laps combined with the blustery conditions, Alex ran an excellent tactical race to hit the front hard with 400m remaining.  It was mainly sub 4.20 athletes who withstood this onslaught (Alex ran a 63 last lap), with Alex crossing the line in 6th place, 4.32.71, with just one athlete of her age/year younger ahead.

Also making a very welcome return to top level competition was Charlotte Alexander, an U17 athlete running up into the U20 age group.  There was the potential for athletes to be picked for the European Youth Championship, Gyor, Hungary, 5-8 July 2018, and this was very much a target for Charlotte coming in this race.  First through, she would have top rival (who can forget that epic dual at the 2017 English Schools) Ella McNiven to contend with.

Charlotte ran an excellent race, committing with athletes who are two to three years’ older whilst tucking in nicely behind others.  As the race progressed it was clear that Charlotte had well and truly recovered the form of last summer, and she finished an excellent 4th, 9.38.59, well inside the EYC QT and ahead of all her main rivals.

Dan Ryan had a busy weekend, not unusual for a top end multi event athlete.  It says a lot about the quality of a number of his individual events that he can compete at these U20 championships, in four different events.  Dan ran an excellent PB in the 110H as he dipped under 15 seconds for the first time with 14.97.  He backed that up with strong performances of 6m66 in the long jump, 13m99 in the shot put (where he finished 4th) and 39m35 in the discus.

Finally, also competing in the long jump, U20W, was Ore Adamson, competing up an age group as an U17.  Ore, who is also a reigning English Schools and Southern Champion and currently ranked 2nd in the UK (by 1 centimetre) finished 8th overall, in a high quality competition.

Well done to all of the above athletes for your excellent performances.  We wish you the very best for the rest of the season.

Keith Newton