Essex Track and Field Championships 2016

Harrier’s Haul of Honours at Essex Champs

With Rio just around the corner, 14 & 15 May was a major date on the British Amateur Athletic calendar as athletes aged from 12 years old competed in their areas across the country to claim the title of County Champion. Essex prestigious Track and Field Championships were once again held at Melbourne Athletic Centre in Chelmsford.

For one youngster – his dreams of being the next Usain Bolt, may well come true. Harrier’s latest rising star, Graig Anya-Joseph is not a typical 12 year old. Standing shoulders above his peers, this gifted young man has already set his mark as a force to be reckoned with at meets in the EYAL (Eastern Young Athletics League) clocking up maximum points at each meet for his club. At primary school he had to race his teachers, as a Year 7 at The Stanway School, he is paired with year 11’s. And at this year’s championships, his first ever, he claimed not just three Gold medals and new club records, but two Championship Best Performances for U13 boys along the way. His 100m ran in 12.1 s knocked half a second off the previous record however an illegal wind meant the record could not stand , his 200m ( his preferred distance) 25.2 shaved off 0.7s and saving his best for last, he threw a massively impressive 33.97m in the Discus to better the Best Performance by over 7 metres. A distance that would have earned him silver in the U15 Boys competition. This is achievement enough on its own, but nationally, these results rank him top place in each event for his age.

The medals started rattling after Anya-Joseph’s success rippled throughout the Club as one by one Harriers’ athletes took on the challenges and produced an inspiring number of personal bests and a medal haul into double figures.

Triple success also came in the U20 Women’s field events where 17 year old Philippa Davenall, who last year as an U17 Hammer thrower, was ranked 4th in the Country – her PB placing her just outside a world ranking – showed her extraordinary talents across the throws. Gold medals came in Hammer (50.18m), Discus (30.30m) and Shot, where she also gained a PB (9.54m).

Still in the field, Silver medals were awarded to Javelin throwers Tom Mitchell showing a return to form throwing a confident 47. 52 m in U20m competition, whilst U15 Aliyah Soames claimed hers with a confident 27.85m. Completing the accolades in Field events for Harriers were 16 year old Millie Belbin who gained a Bronze in U17 Women’s Triple Jump and a silver for Courtney Bland in U20 women’s Long Jump.

In the U17 women’s sprints, 16 year old Rebecca Jeggo claimed a new Club record, a PB and a National qualifying time with a well-deserved Silver medal in the 100m running 12.16. In a nail biting 200m, the wind denied her a double National qualification but did gain her, a second Silver of the Championships and another PB, dipping under the 25 s barrier. In the Men’s U17 Sprints, Callum McKay met expectations to prove once again, that despite being in the younger half of his category, age is no barrier to his enviable skill. Two fierce and thrilling finals earnt him bronze medals and merit worthy PB’s in the 100m (11.18s) and 200m (23.11).

Grit and determination come in bucket loads when Connor Oliver takes on the 400m sprint. The talented Harriers U20 ducked under the 50 s bar again to storm though and take Silver medal (49.76). In the 200m, the last race of the competition he was awarded the bronze after a thrilling dash to the line. Training buddy Callum Petit-Coombes, returning from injury, was in impressive form to claim a great PB and take Silver in the U20m 400m Hurdles in a very respectable time of 58.51s.

The U17m 800m saw training partners Jake Young and Oscar Dawson compete head to head against a field including ex Harriers member Charlie Everest. Defending Champion, Young, who has already enjoyed an impressive string of wins this year, ran a mature race, tucking in behind the leader before a decisive 100m sprint to claim Gold place in a new PB of 1.57.07, with Dawson just seconds behind in second place and his own fastest time of 1.59.73 and Everest third.

The 3000m saw both the U17 women and U15 girls running side by side; in her first ever competition at this distance, the small but mighty Hannah Rodgers clocked in at 13:42.95 for a well-earned Silver whilst Hannah Watson running as a first year U17, finished just outside the medals in fourth place. In the boys equivalent, U15 talented distance runner, Danny Millward, who had previously just missed out on a medal in the 1500m took Bronze in a closely fought race to finish a second behind the silver placed athlete.

Olympian Daniel King passed the County Crown which he has held for the past few years to his brother Dominic for this year’s 3000m walk, both claiming season bests and confidence for the road to Rio. Senior woman Stacey Eyers claimed bronze in the 1500m.

The Championships provided many Personal Bests including U13’s newcomer Millie Presland who just missed out on a podium place in the 1500m but achieved a PB of 5:26.49. More gains were made by U15 girls Katy Rice in 75m Hurdles (13.6), Savannah Harrison 300m (45.90), Hollie Spellar 300m (47.20), Jasmine Morley 800m (2:38.31); in U15 boys Henry Lawes reached a fast final of the U15 boys 100m clocking up a new PB of 11.99s as well as competing in the Long Jump. In the Senior Women category Denise Morley took 5th in 800m (2:29.42) whilst Ella Neale followed close on her heels for 6th place (2:33.74), Rebecca Cooke was rewarded with a PB in 3000m (10:53.42), in the Senior men’s races Paul Preston earned himself a new PB in the M35 1500m with a time of 4:59.21 and also ran the 3000m in 18:19.27. Also competing were Max Caulfield who gained 7th place in U15 boys 1500m, Isabella Minder in U15 girls 200m who was joined by Lauren Strutt in the U15 girls Long Jump.

Callum McKay, Connor Oliver, Jake Young and Rebecca Jeggo

Graig Anya-Joseph receiving the U13 Discus gold