Sportshall season off to a flyer for Chichester juniors

Chichester's triumphant juniors at Horsham  Picture by Lee Hollyer
Chichester's triumphant juniors at Horsham Picture by Lee Hollyer

Chichester’s young athletes travelled to Horsham for their first match of the season in the Sussex Sportshall League - and were faced with the toughest standard of competition in the 32 years of the competition.

Despite having to compete against the best athletes in the county, there were a number of winning performances from the Chichester squad across all three age groups.

In the youngest age band - the under-11s - the club tasted double success on the track with Maya Shankar and Maria Austin too fast for their rivals for a double win in the two-lap girls’ race.

The pair followed this with a couple of runners-up spots in the standing long jump, with Fleur Hollyer a capable reserve both times.

For the under-13s, Alyssa White and Amelia Freeman caught the eye with a double win in the vertical jump, this after White had just been edged out in the two-lap sprint. Roberta Collyer showed good form in the B string.

Eloise Lane ran a finely-judged six-lap race to win, taking the lead only in the last few strides.

In the B string, Xenia Truman was on fine form to finish second - and with Rosie Compton and Amber Dodd completing the squad, the under-13s can look forward to a fine season.

In the under-15s, Mia Faulkner spearheaded the track races with a fast two-lap, with Imogen Deacon offering good support. Olivia Pine and Lulu Baldwin did well in the four-lap, both making their first appearance in a sportshall match for the club.

In the boys’ match, there were a number of promising performances although no individual victories.

The best result came in the under-15 two-lap sprint with James Austin and Brandon Bell involved in fast races and tight finishes with the Crawley and Horsham athletes.

Bell teamed up with Ben Morton to gain a couple of third places in the four-lap race. It was similar in the under-13s, where Alex Austin and Jack Dean produced battling runs in the two-lap sprint for third and fourth respectively.

Runners from all six clubs were almost involved in a blanket finish with the exception of the winning A string from Horsham, who followed his record-breaking outdoor season with a new indoor league record.

In the longer six-lap race, Harry Sage and Jeremy Sharp used their endurance from the cross-country season to record fast times.

Showing great team spirit, the quartet scored good points in all four field events in shot putt, vertical jump, speed bounce and standing long jump. Finally, a completely new team competing in their first match for the under-11s - Joe Smith, Matt Goff and Sam Sage - all scored good points.

* This Saturday sees the second match of the Sussex Cross Country League take place at Plumpton Agricultural College, where conditions are certain to be muddy over the farmland course after the recent rain.

It will be a final chance for athletes to impress the Sussex selectors before the South of England inter-counties in December.

Racing starts with an invitation under-11 race at midday with the league action starting with the under-13s at 12.30pm and the senior men bringing the programme to a close with their 8,000m race at 2.30pm.

PHIL BAKER