Roe roars to success at Sussex multi-event championships

Charlie Roe has earned a place in the Sussex all-time top ten - and could be on the way to national glory  Picture by Sara Ellis
Charlie Roe has earned a place in the Sussex all-time top ten - and could be on the way to national glory Picture by Sara Ellis
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Chichester’s multi-event athletes did the club proud at the Sussex championships.

Held in conjunction with the Surrey championships, the event went ahead in changeable weather conditions which did not stop Charlie Roe and Jess Breach finishing top of their respective age groups.

Sophie-Anne Haigh also emerged with credit with a well-deserved bronze medal.

In the senior men’s decathlon, Roe was dominant throughout the weekend and finished the competition with 6,459 points - a new championship record which put him fifth on the all-time Sussex list.

The score ranks Roe in the top ten in the UK in his under-23 age group and just outside the top 20 in the senior listings.

Following the Olympic order of disciplines, Roe had a fairly modest first day with 11.45sec in the 100m followed by a 6.53m long jump and a 10.73m best in the shot. A high jump of 1.91m was 10cm below his best but not disastrous in the windy conditions, and the same can be said for a 400m in 50.78sec.

It was different on day two with three new personal-best marks and one near-miss from the five events.

The day started with the 110m hurdles and Roe paid tribute to the new all-weather straight at the University of Chichester which has enabled him to hone his hurdling skills throughout the summer and produce a new best time of 16.15sec.

The near miss was in the discus, an event that Roe has had to learn from scratch for the decathlon. Two massive throws were called a foul as Roe stepped out of the back of the throwing circle before the discus had landed, such was the height of the trajectory - so a legal best of just under 30m was added to his score.

Normal service was resumed with a new mark of 3.60m in the pole vault followed by a new club record of 48.13m in the javelin.

The 1,500m is more a question of survival for decathletes and a 4min 33sec clocking cemented his display.

If Roe can maintain this season’s 300-point improvement over the next couple of years, a 7,000-point total will put him firmly in the UK senior top ten and with a chance of a major national breakthrough.

Another Chichester athlete who has made great strides over the past year is Jess Breach, who claimed the under-17 women’s Sussex heptathlon title in her first year in the age group.

Her total of 3,865 points put her just outside the top 20 in the UK rankings and is better than club-mate Isobel Brown achieved at that stage. Breach will have another year in the age group to challenge Brown’s club record of 4,137 points.

There was a single disappointment for Breach out of the seven events, with her javelin effort below par, but that was more than made up for by a string of fine performances in the other six.

A 12.23sec clocking in the 80m hurdles was followed by a 1.41m clearance in the high jump, a solid 9.43m in the shot and a speedy 26.9sec 200m to end day one.

On day two, the long jump produced an excellent 5.13m leap and Breach put the disappointment of the javelin behind her in the final event with a battling 2.39min in the 800m.

The third Chichester athlete to come away with a medal was Sophie-Anne Haigh, who finished third in the under-15 girls’ pentathlon.

Having made her mark this season as a sprinter with club records in both 100m and 200m, Haigh started her competition with a good long jump of 4.50m followed by a 13.09sec hurdles and a 6.85m shot.

After a clearance of 1.27m in the high jump, Haigh ended with a fine 800m of 2.42mins to pull well clear of the athlete in fourth place and clinch her bronze medal.

PHIL BAKER