Young athletes lead the way for Chichester

Chichester's young athletes pictured earlier in the summer
Chichester's young athletes pictured earlier in the summer

Chichester’s improving under-13 squad emerged with fine performances at their latest Sussex League match at Horsham and gave encouraging signs for the end-of-season Sussex Grand Final.

Leading from the front were two athletes who have gained recognition as part of the Sussex team in the recent south-east England inter-counties match.

Cellan Robinson gave the club the perfect start on the track with an impressive 75m win in 10.8 seconds with an even better win in the 150m later in the match in a swift 20.3 seconds.

Equally-good news for the club was the showing of newcomer Corben Atkinson, who gained a couple of first places from the B string races to give Chichester a maximum points score from the two events.

Sam Price, the other county representative, missed his stride pattern in the hurdles but made up for this with a dominant win in the long jump with 4.37m.

In the middle-distance races run over shorter distances than usual in this league, Jeremy Sharp showed good speed in the 600m well supported by Harry Smith while Ryan Darwen finished strongly in the 1,000m.

There was good track running in the girls’ match with Lily Bradley and Maya Shankar leading the way in the sprints – with Caitlin Brown, Emily Seehawong and Fleur Hollyer lending good support.

In the 1,000m, Amber Dodd just pipped Charlotte Bullard with both girls just outside 3.40 and reserve Emma Farquhar also inside four minutes.

In the field events, Brown continued her improvement in the discus with a second place while Coco Smythe set good marks in both high jump and javelin.

Chichester’s under-15s showed their mettle in their final Sussex League match of the season.

Full of confidence after their winning team effort in their National League fixture a week earlier, there were a host of fine performances against quality opposition.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the boys’ 300m, where Brandon Bell matched his new personal best with a 39.1 clocking but had to settle for second place behind Crawley’s new UK record-holder, who won easing up in 37.7.

It was a busy evening for Bell, who also battled in the 100m and 200m, well supported in all three events by Lewis Hall as a capable B string.

There was a new 800m partnership as Ben Collins posted yet another 2.12 seconds winning time with Will Broom well inside 2.30 for second place in the B string.

In the 1,500m, Leo Stallard set a new best time of 4.48 to turn the tables on Ben Morton by less than a second and reserve Jack Lorimer making his first appearance for the club in an encouraging 5.23.7.

Nicholas Cornelius and Michael Ackerman joined forces in the hurdles before Cornelius notched a good runners-up spot in the high jump with 1.55 and third place in the long jump with 4.64. Jack Blackman scored well in the B string.

With gaps in the throws it was a chance for others to show their prowess and Collins and Benedict Robinson both set personal-best marks in the shot.

In the throws the girls’ squad, Kerrie Pafford notched a well-deserved double win in shot and discus, backed up by consistent Natalie Gzik. Rachel Laurie ran well in the sprints to have two second places with Emogen Spreckly in support, while Amelia Freeman followed a second place in the hurdles with another in the high jump followed by a good long jump win with 4.25m, just below her best.

With a number of athletes due to return for the Sussex Grand Final on September 5, Chichester will be once again looking to match their top-three placing from ten clubs recorded in the past couple of seasons.

Chichester’s under-17s travelled to Winchester for the final match in their National League programme – and a number of their Sussex representatives from a week before were once again in action.

In the sprints, Sophie-Anne Haigh stepped up to the under-20 event to record a speedy 12.7 seconds. That was a tenth of a second behind her personal best and she was beaten only by an Ealing and Southall athlete in the higher age group, who ran a very fast 12.3 clocking to put her into the UK top 30 in her age group.

To cap a fine day, Haigh scored a win in the long jump with a best of 4.38m.

Chichester’s other two sprinters both ran in the under-17 age group. Caitlin Moore was involved in the most exciting finish of the whole day where she and two of her rivals were credited with the same time of 13.4sec, with Moore’s lunge for the line just getting her the verdict.

Later in the 200m, there was a second place for the Chichester athlete, with Mia Faulkner lending good support in the B string. The pair capped their day in the triple jump with Faulkner getting the longer distance and both girls well over eight metres.

Opting for the two longest races of the day, Rose Ellis and Amber Westrom firstly paired up for the 3,000m with a second place in the A string and a win in the B string. The pair joined up for the steeplechase at the end of the match to similar effect.

In the field events another Sussex representative, Alex Jarrold, was just short of ten metres in the shot and had a steady discus throw, while Poppy Wildsmith was just below her best in the high jump for second place.

The star of the boys’ team was Peter Thomas, who achieved a hat-trick of wins in this competition for the first time with close victories in hammer and shot before winning the discus by eight metres over his rivals with a throw of 33m.

Owen Seehawong was second in the high jump with a 1.60 clearance after setting a new personal best in the 100m with a fine 11.7 clocking, followed by a 24.1 in the 200m.

Sam Pink ran a steady 1,500m while Harry Pink, winner of the recent Chichester triathlon, continued his fine form in the 1,500m steeplechase, winning it after being edged out in the 3,000m in a sprint finish.

Chichester’s senior team travel to Yeovil on Saturday and will have to do battle with the hosts, who are in second place, plus league leaders Plymouth.

Lying comfortably in mid-table, Chichester will have the opportunity to assess what is needed to entertain thoughts of promotion next season.

The heroes of the last match, Charlie Roe and Aaron Hancock, will be hoping not to be quite as busy while ever-present James Baker will be completing his 21st season in senior league athletics.

by PHIL BAKER