Going is tough as young Chichester athletes end league season

Ollie Beach in action in the season's final national league match / Picture by Lee Hollyer
Ollie Beach in action in the season's final national league match / Picture by Lee Hollyer

Chichester finished their National Youth Development League campaign in subdued fashion at a very hot and humid Kingston athletics track.

Not able to field anything like their strongest team, Chichester could not challenge in the team standings but that did not prevent the 18 athletes on duty from producing some fine performances in tough conditions.

In the boys’ events, all-rounder Ollie Beach again caught the eye in the discus just a week after his fine fifth place at the English Schools championships.

He was again over the 40m mark with a best of 40.15m, some 15m clear of the field. Beach has now firmly established himself as number two on Chichester’s all-time rankings for discus and only being headed by Simon Cooke, who set a mark of 48.48 in the year 2000 which still stands as 26th on the UK all-time in the under-15 age group.

Cooke went on to represent his country at under-20 level and progress into the senior ranks – and Beach is aiming to follow in his footsteps.

Beach was also in action in the shot, beaten by a Horsham athlete who was also at the English schools. But he managed a respectable 10.84m.

Club-mate Jack Wadman won both the B string shot with 10m as well as the B string discus with a throw of 21m and a jump of 1.45m in the high jump.

On the track newcomer Tom Bentley showed good speed over 200m with a 26.1 clocking, with Joe McLarnon equally impressive with 27.2 in the B string.

Beach and Will Simmonds contested the 100m to give Chichester good points in the sprints while the middle-distance runners battled bravely with Gabe White in the 800m and McLarnon forced to slow with a bad stitch when leading the 1,500m.

Younger brother Barney put up a brave run in a very competitive 800m in the under-13 age group.

In the girls’ events, it was in the field where Chichester had their main success of the day with Millie Grant passing the 9m mark to win the shot putt on countback with 9.05.

{Men lead the charge for Chichester athletics honours|https://www.chichester.co.uk/sport/more-sports/chichester-s-men-lead-the-charge-for-athletics-glory-at-swindon-1-8573344}

She also broke the 20m mark in the hammer, supported well by newcomer Latitia Mutekezda, who also made a good pairing in the discus with another newcomer Chloe Noble.

There was good representation in the sprints with Fleur Hollyer coming through strongly in the 100m to record 13.6 after a slowish start while Sophie Dudman provided useful back-up in the B string with sisters Chloe and Honey Noble gaining good experience in the non-scoring event.

Hollyer and Dudman resumed their partnership in the 200m while Dudman joined up with Chloe Noble in a very fast-run 75m hurdles.

In the middle distance races Cerys Dickinson found conditions difficult and had to be content with a time of 2.34.4, well outside her best, while Isobel Buckler just got the better of twin sister Eva to record 5.10.8, a fine time in the hottest part of the day.

For the under-13s Gabriella Styles and Lucy Hollyer sprinted well in the 100m while Tilly Russell-Stoneham ran a quick time over 70m hurdles with Styles in support and then posted a good 1,200m clocking of 4.34.2.

Hollyer meanwhile showed her versatility by adding points to the team total both in shot and long jump.

* There is now a welcome summer break for the club’s juniors with all eyes on the two important Sussex finals just before the start of the autumn school term.

The under-15s have their competition against the top ten Sussex clubs on Friday, August 31, at the Withdean Stadium, Brighton, while the under-13s are in action on Sunday, September 2, at the K2 track in Crawley.

In both cases Chichester have a reputation to defend. They are currently placed second in the under-15 league standings over the past ten years, while the under-13s are joint leaders equal with a very strong Crawley club over a period of 18 years since the Sussex final began in its present format.

PHIL BAKER