Saturday 2nd February and day one of the Essex and Eastern Counties Indoor Championships at Lee Valley belonged to experienced sprinter Joy Ogunleye.
After a blistering start in her U20W 60m heat, she closed off the gas with ten metres to the line to qualify through to the final. Hours later and she was back to challenge for the gold medal. Looking strong and confident in warm up, she committed from the gun and delivered a fine performance to cross the line with air between her and second place in a new Championship Best Performance, PB and Club Record of 7.64s.
U13 Jessica Scotchmer made her Essex Champs debut placing fourth in her 60m heat in a time of 9.40s, she then went on to compete the Long Jump where she cleared 3.48m. Hollie Martin-Whymark is clearly reaping the benefits from coach Ian Kelly. After progressing through to the Semi-final of the U13 60m she gained herself consecutive PB’s of 8.96s and a then 8.91s to place 6th, missing out on a place in the final. However, her Long Jump competition which took place simultaneously with her semi gained her a third PB of the day (3.67m) and with it a great Essex Bronze medal.
In the U17 men’s category training buddies Jimi Sijuwola and Joseph Clarke ran well to both get places in the semi. For Joe it was his first ever 60m race and stepped up to the challenge with a fine 4th place finish in a fast heat to gain a fastest loser slot in 7.66s. In heat 4 Jimi, conquered his race from the start and crossed with a PB in 7.25s. Facing each other in the same semi, Jimi, once again showed his dominance by securing first place in another PB of 7.24s. Despite finishing in 6th place Joe gained his second PB of 7.62s and with it valuable experience for the summer ahead. Sijuwola lined up for the final alongside 2018 UK top 5 ranked athletes and lead the pack for the first thirty metres, another PB of 7.21s was good enough for a well-deserved Essex Bronze medal.
Travel disruptions on the railway left U17 Chanel Mba, with just minutes to warm up before her 60m heat. In spite of the adrenaline, her mature calm head got her the last slot in the semi with a PB of 8.50s where she came home in 6th place equalling her earlier time.
Looking powerful and placing second in his 60m heat, U20 Callum McKay (7.28s), then sadly struggled with discomfort from an on-going injury in his final to place 6th. Senior, Joe Wilkin, endured a hesitant start to fight bravely back to claim a good fourth place, just missing out on a place in the final.
Day two of the champs and there was a distinct upscaling of the number of green vests in the arena. Where Ogunleye had excelled on day one, Sunday was the time for 200m specialist Rebecca Jeggo to shine. Having watched both Ogunleye and Ella Gray compete in the first heat of the U20’s races where Ogunleye eased through from lane 5 in a relaxed 25.21s and Gray taking 5th from lane 3, Jeggo then took on her the second heat from lane 5, where she showed she meant business by taking a comprehensive lead after the first 100m to then jog over the line in first place in 25.24s. With the final coming at the end of the day, the girls had a lengthy wait, however during warm up Ogunleye felt a niggle in her hamstring and took the mature decision – with just one week before her British Indoor Championships debut – to play it safe and withdraw from the competition. Once again drawn in lane 5, Jeggo, now a third year U20, blasted out at the gun and conquered the race within her first few strides, opening up a comfy lead down the back straight, she came into the last bend and maintained her pace across the line to smash her previous Championship Best Performance (set in 2018) by.26s to PB in 24.67s. This will be a great confidence boost for next week’s British Indoor Championships and the summer season ahead.
Taking on a second day of competition Martin-Whymark and Scotchmer both gained valuable PB’s in the U13 girls 200m. Martin-Whymark looking relaxed and in control knocked off a remarkable whole second off her previous best for fifth to cross in 30.70s and Scotchmer, with another indoor debut managed 32.58s.
Opening up her 2019 200m season, Olivia Gillon now in their first year of U15, was pleased with her performance achieving a promising PB of 29.69s finishing 6th.
Another indoor debutant was U17 Tanaka Maara who despite no previous experience conducted himself well in heat 2 of the 200m to run 24.8s and after a lengthy wait, realised he had bagged himself a fastest loser slot in the semi-final. Heat 3 saw Sijuwola return for a second days competition and again he showed his skill and determination to gain an automatic qualifying slot in the semi, taking second place in a time of 24.5s his fourth PB of the weekend. The two squad members then found themselves going head to head in the second of the semi-finals, with Maara drawing the tough inside lane. Sijuwola continued his good form by reaching his second final of the weekend with a sixth PB of the weekend – 24.14s. 1st year Maara gained another PB of 24.64s and a good fourth place but was unable to progress. The final of the U17 Men’s 200m saw Sijuwola set off at a blistering rate from lane 1, but he just didn’t have the strength to stay in the game, and crossed the line in 6th place in 24.4s.
Maya Rattray was the only green vest to compete the U17W 200m, where she produced a great race for her first indoor 200m, finishing just outside her outdoor PB in 26.9s (a top 40 UK ranking), but convincingly ahead of third place to reach the next round. Her semi saw her go one better, placing a good second and again automatically progressing to the final where in lane 3 she committed wholeheartedly to the race, producing another consistent run and taking away an Essex Bronze medal as her reward.
In the U20 women’s 300m Jennifer Palmer earned herself a magnificent PB, scorching half a second off of her previous best. Whilst first year U17 Sam Shippey ran a confident and sensible heat of the 400m to gain an automatic qualifying place in the final where despite a good start he unfortunately found himself boxed in, then trodden on resulting in a disappointing fifth place for this young man.
Oscar Dawson, now running as a Senior (although aged 19) competed in a straight final and worked his way through from 6th place in the 800m, to take fifth place on the bell and using all his competition experience he edged himself into an Essex Bronze medal position, A great reward for years of training.
In the U20 age category of the 800m, Thomas Palmer again just had one race to contend with and acquitted himself well in a swiftly changing field where everything was up for grabs and with one lap to go, he pushed on into third place, but just did not have enough left to sprint for second place. His Bronze medal though made up for just missing out on a new indoor PB.
Following on from Martin-Whymark’s U13 Long Jump Medal, Suffolk based U17 Eliza Betts upheld the Harriers fortune in the pit and produced a season’s best of 5.01m for an Eastern Bronze medal. In the U17 Men’s Triple Jump and with very little training in this event so far this winter, Joseph Clarke went into the competition with the expectation of treating it really as an opportunity to practice in decent conditions. He executed himself well to gain a best jump of 11.30m and a great Essex Silver medal.