Snowden Opens her Season with a World Championship Qualifying Time

Herne Hill Harriers Tokyo Olympian Katie Snowden kicked off her season on Friday evening in California and made a very encouraging start. In her first track race since last September’s Diamond League Final she placed third in a stellar women’s 1500m race at the Sound Running Track Meet at San Juan Capistrano.

Snowden clocked a World Athletics Championship qualifying standard of 4:03.90, her fastest ever season opener, a time which puts her at the top of the early season British women’s rankings. As well as beating the standard for the Worlds in Oregon, her performance is also a qualifying mark for the European Athletics Championship in Munich and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. All of these events take place later this summer and teams are subject to selection.

Snowden found herself boxed in until beyond the bell for the final lap, but as the race wound up her final 800m was covered in 2:06 and her last lap in 60.4. These lap time splits were  as fast as anyone in the race as she produced a strong finish to move through from the pack. Now returning home to London after a couple of months training at altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona, Snowden’s next race will be at the Birmingham Diamond League on 21st May. 

In London on Saturday the club’s senior men and women contested the first National Athletics League fixture of the season at the Weir Archer Stadium at Kingsmeadow. The league returned to a national basis and eight teams per match after the smaller, more local versions with only four teams during the Covid restrictions and this meeting was very competitive.

The Herne Hill team placed fourth on the day, a pleasing result given there were a number of gaps on the team sheet, albeit said team also featured some quality in a number of events. Daniel Ryan was the top individual contributor as he contested five events and won three of these. Ryan first won the discus with 42.14m, then the 110m hurdles in 15.0 seconds and then the shot with 13.44m. Ryan went on to place fourth in the javelin with 41.60m and ran second leg in the Harriers 4 x 400m relay team who finished second.

The highlight of the women’s events for Herne Hill was the winning performance of the 4 x 100m relay team at the end of the match. Saskia King, Maleeka Taylor, Jaydine Robinson and Niyah Costley combined very well to record 48.1. Although racing in a senior league, the quartet are all still under 20 and their winning time constitutes a new club Under 20 women’s record for the sprint relay.

With quite a few regular female team members missing, Julia Wedmore competed in five events as she added 400m hurdles, discus and javelin to her more usual 3000m (third B string in 11:19.5) and 1500m (thirdrd B in 5:29.7). Fiona de Mauny’s 3000m (third A string in 10:29.6) and 400m (seventh A string in 66.7) was also an unusual combination, not only for her, but for most athletes. 

Isaac Ogunlade was the other individual event winner from the team as he won the 400m hurdles in 54.7 seconds. Other men who scored well included the 4 x 400m relay team of Adam Thompson, Ryan, Tyson Oladokun and Ogunlade who were second after a good battle with Tonbridge.  

The men’s middle distance turnout was good, with under 17 Keeran Sriskandarajah clocking 1:57.6 and Noah Armitage-Hookes 1:58.5, fifth and thirrd respectively in the A and B 800m. In the 1500m Mike Cummings with 3:59.8 was fourth A string and Dan Shaw 4:02.7 was second B, while Lewis Laylee ran 14:50.5 for second in the A string 5000m with Jack Brotchie also second B runner with 15:53.0. Jeff Cunningham and Tony Macdowall were third in the A and second in the B in the 3000m steeplechase in 10:33.7 and 11:44.9.

The women’s team welcomed new members Zara Acton and Gabriella Thoburn. Acton placed fourth in the discus with a PB 39.12m then followed up with second in the shot with 11.86m. Thoburn finished fourth in the high jump with a best clearance of 1.55m. Jenny Nandi also made her track team debut running her first 1500m race since school and aquitted herself well in 6th in the A string with 5:12.8.

On Sunday the youngest age groups had their first big league match in the UK Youth Development League at Bedford. No detailed individual results are available at the time of writing, but the team emerged as overall winners on the day in the combined scoring of the Under 13 and Under 15 boys and girls. A superb result achieved through an excellent all round collective effort from all of the team members and a very good start to their campaign in this league.

Geoff Jerwood