Never mind the rain - Chichester athletes want to reign

Chichester's under-13s / Picture by Lee Hollyer
Chichester's under-13s / Picture by Lee Hollyer

On a day when the match itself was in doubt because of torrential rain during the afternoon, Chichester’s under-15s produced some fine performances at Horsham.

Now in its eighth year, the league continues to grow in popularity and has seen many of the best senior athletes in Sussex pass through its ranks.

Chichester finished a close second to national premier club Crawley in this latest fixture and were too good for home club Horsham as well as East Grinstead, Worthing and Haywards Heath.

Chichester’s under-15 boys had put in a dominant all-round showing at their National League match at Portsmouth the previous week and were not far off full strength at Horsham.

Times on the day were understandably slower but one athlete who made light of the conditions was middle-distance runner Ben Collins, who forced the pace in the 800m from the gun.

Going through halfway inside 60 seconds, Collins was well clear of his rivals and battled hard into the wind down the back straight and crossed the finishing line in 2.05.2, less than half a second inside his best-ever and crucially just over a second inside the Sussex League record.

Collins now holds both middle-distance records having set the 1,500m record in the previous fixture. Partnering Collins in the 800m was Will Broom, who ensured the club’s only double win of the evening with more than ten seconds to spare over his rivals in the B string.

In the 1,500m Leo Stallard and Ned Potter ran well in the conditions to finish in just outside five minutes with Sam Sheldon a capable non-scorer in his first match for the club.

Lewis Hall and Cellan Robinson continued to impress in the sprints supported by Jack Dean with Robinson also showing potential over 300m for the first time.

Ethan Brown and Sam Price combined well in hurdles and long jump with Brown and Stallard resuming their javelin combination from the previous week. Michael Ackerman returned to the team to partner James Gillett in shot, discus and hammer and apart from the Crawley throwers were too good for the rest.

For the under-15 girls, in the absence of English schools sprinter Alyssa White, Rachel Laurie led the club in the sprints and she did not disappoint with a double win in the 100m and 200m.

Just a tenth of a second was Laurie’s winning margin in the shorter event over a speedy East Grinstead athlete but there was clear daylight in the 200m with a gap of over half a second over her nearest rival from Crawley.

Roberta Collyer was a good B string in the 100m while Eloise Lane and Coco Smythe made a new combination over 300m to good effect. Likewise Caitlin Brown and Florence Smith teamed up well over 800m with Izzy Loveridge opting for the longer 1,500m and hurdles where she was partnered by newcomer Hannah Anwyl.

Smythe led the jumps supported by Anwyl and Rosie Compton while the team rallied to help the team in shot, discus and javelin in the absence of the club’s regular throwers. Brown and Compton produced the best result with a second and third in the discus.

Match result

1 Crawley 236pts

2 Chichester 191

3 Horsham 172

4 East Grinstead 91

5 Worthing & District 82

6 Haywards Heath 63

A total of 23 athletes turned out for the latest Sussex under-13 league fixture by far Chichester’s highest turnout of the season for the evening series of matches. A solid 3rd place out of the 6 teams was good reward for their efforts with Crawley on top followed by host club Horsham.

Under-13 girls

After her absence for the match at Portsmouth, Maya Shankar returned to lead the line in the sprints and was rewarded with a fast 10.5sec clocking in the 75m, just pipped by a tenth by the Horsham A string.

She emerged with a win in the 150m later in the match in 20.9sec with a tenth to spare over her nearest challenger.

For the B strings Jess Rayner and new member Paris Wilton put in good performances.

Charlotte Bullard put in a strong run for second place in the 600m while Gracie Roberts, Megan Elkins and Rose Potter all ran well in the non-scoring race over the same distance.

Nicole Boltwood and Nina Moranne have made a good middle-distance combination over the longer distances this year, even though both have another year in the age group and were both under 3.50 for the 1,000m.

Rayner cleared a good high jump supported by Wilton and Bullard as a non-scorer while Poppy Chandler and Moranne picked up good points in the long jump with Lucy Hollyer also a non-scorer.

Freya Chandler led the throws with third places in the A-string shot and javelin, both events proving of the highest standard.

Showing great team spirit Potter gained a third place in her first attempt at the shot putt while Fleur Hollyer, more at home in the sprints where she ran a fast 75ms, made her first attempt at the discus to good effect.

Under 13 boys

First p-aces in the A string were hard to come by in the boys’ events but Liam Dunne showed great versatility with two runners-up spots with a good long jump followed by a fast 1000m at the end of the match, only having to give way to an inspired run from the East Grinstead runner who crossed the line just one second outside the league record.

Supporting well in the B race, Owen Thomas again showed the improvement he has made this season.

In the sprints, Jacob Piper made his first appearance for the club and was rewarded with a third place in the 75m with Tom Cohen in support. Later Piper supported Oli Beach in the shot with Beach a fine second place in the A string even though he is in the younger year in the age group.

Archie Lyne and Beach then joined together in the 150m with Cohen and Jonny Simmons pairing up in the 600m. There was further back-up on the track with George Ashby and James Bullard running as non-scorers in the 600 and 1,000m respectively.

Eddie Critchell was again over 21m in the javelin with Simmons improving his best in the B string while Bullard scored good points in the discus as did Ashby and in the hurdles together with Thomas and Critchell in the high jump.

With both boys and girls’ squads improving throughout the season, Chichester can look forward to the Sussex under-13 final in early September with confidence and attempt to hold on to their top overall position among Sussex clubs in the 15 years that the final has been held in its present form.

Match result

1 Crawley 227pts

2 Horsham 198

3 Chichester 135

4 East Grinstead 123

5 Worthing 63

6 Haywards Heath 57

Taking his place along the world’s best in the recent World Youth Games in Cali, Columbia, 16-yea- old Toby Harries became the first Sussex runner ever to break the 21-second barrier for 200m by posting 20.92 for sixth place in the final.

With the age group at this level for under-18s, Harries was not only competing against older athletes but was experiencing his first ever championships at this level, only having to come to prominence when winning the Sussex schools title last year.

The performance in Cali is vindication for his decision to put his rugby ambitions on hold for the time being – for Harries was also part of the England rugby youth set-up.

Going into the under-20 ranks in home fixtures next year will be a challenge but the ex-Westbourne House and Chichester under-13 club athlete looks well capable of taking the increased competition in his stride.

Chichester Runners & AC plan to stay open for training for most of the summer and invite new members along to their training sessions at the University of Chichester in College Lane.

Secondary school pupils and seniors are able to train on both Mondays and Wednesdays starting at 6pm while primary-school pupils are restricted to just Wednesdays. The sessions last about an hour and are £1 per session. Contact Phil Baker for more information on 01243 533784 or by email at

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