29.Jul.10 West Midlands Win Seven England Senior Titles at Gateshead
Athletes who compete for clubs in the West Midlands region won seven titles from the first England Track and Field Championships to be staged since 2006 writes Tom McCook.
Birchfield Harriers contributed no less than five of these victories including a quartet of field events at a wind swept Gateshead Stadium in the North East.
After winning her fourth consecutive UK hammer title last month at the Alexander Stadium, Birchfield Harriers' Zoe Derham (pictured below), who is coached by the 2002 Commonwealth Games champion Lorraine Shaw, reinforced her status as the UK and England’s Number One female hammer exponent when, despite the weather conditions being at their very worst, the Stagbearer comfortably won the England title by the huge margin of nine and three quarter metres with a 64.26m performance.
Birchfield Harriers' Vikki Hubbard (pictured right), who is coached by the England Athletics National Coach Mentor Graham Ravenscroft, cleared 1.84m at her first attempt to win the Women’s High Jump competition by half a dozen centimetres a few days after her 20th birthday. The Loughborough University student, who is ranked Number 2 in the UK behind the World Heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis commented, “This is my first major competition after being ill for a couple of months which makes it feel that I am starting my season all over again.”
The Stagbearers also took home the gold and silver medals from the Women’s Long Jump competition. As a teenager, 22-year old Amy Harris (pictured top) was an outstanding athlete who won both the 2004 World Youth title in Australia and was runner up at the European Junior Championships before a series of injuries stalled her progression for some years. After two years of studying Applied Economics and Business at Florida State University, Amy who is now coached by Denis Nobles in Florida and Aston Moore in Birmingham declared that she was back in business when she was crowned the England champion with a 6.16m leap after taking the silver medal at the UK Championships in her home town despite being extremely tired and jet lagged. Amy commented, “It was raining when I awoke in Gateshead and did not improve later in the day but I was pleased to have won the England title. The American season runs through from January to June which means that I feel very tired at the moment. Nevertheless I would very much like to represent England at the Commonwealth Games particularly as I won the Commonwealth Youth Title in Bendigo in December 2004.” Her club mate Amy Woodman was second with 5.95m whilst a third Birchfield Harrier Sonia Crawley came within ten centimetres of a medal in fourth place.
Scott Rider (pictured left), who is coached by John Hillier, was crowned the Shot Put Champion with an 18.43m put in the penultimate round which fell to ground a metre and a quarter further than his nearest challenger. The 32-year old Birchfield Harrier’s performance came within one centimetre of his silver medal winning performance at the UK Championships. The Stag said, “The wind was all over the place but I was pleased to get in a good one in the fifth round.”
City of Stoke’s Midland Javelin Champion Brett Byrd is another thrower who had the satisfaction of advancing from the silver medal position at the UK Championships to the top place on the podium at Gateshead. The 20-year old, who served his athletics apprenticeship under the tutelage of Phil Owen at Tamworth AC, but is now coached by George Cooper, achieved a distance of 67.80m to win the Men’s Javelin title by three and a half metres.
Coventry Godiva Harriers Tina Brown, who is coached by Glynn Tromans, overcame a hernia operation three months ago to lead the 3,000m Steeplechase from gun to tape and win the energy sapping race by half a minute in 10 mins 11.19 secs. The Medical Secretary at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham will now hope to represent England at this year’s Commonwealth Games in India after finishing eighth at the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Birchfield Harriers Bernice Wilson took home gold and silver medals in career best performances from the Women’s sprint medals after raising her profile by finishing runner up over 60 metres in both in the UK Indoor Championships at Sheffield and the televised Aviva International meeting in Glasgow. The 26-year old Sports Development Officer at Louth in Lincolnshire, who has been coached by Dr. George Skafidas for the past 2 ½ years, was understandably delighted at her break-through performances. “I am really pleased to have finally won a national title and with my times in unhelpful weather conditions. I used to run all distances from 60m through to 400m but my training is now much more specific for sprinting. My coach brings out the best in me. There was a strong head wind but I focussed on battling through whilst trying not to tense up in the closing stages of the Finals.”
Evidence of Birchfield Harriers' strength in depth over the one lap distance was provided by two young Stags taking home a brace of medals from the Men’s 400m Final. The silver medal went to Luke Lennon Ford who Roger Walters coached to the World Indoor Championships in Doha a few months ago. The 21-year old stopped the clock in a career best time of 46.70 seconds to get within two tenths of a second of victory. The bronze medal went to Jordan McGrath, who is coached by the former Birchfield Harriers Chairman and England Coach Mentor Tony Hadley in a season’s best of 47.07 secs.
Other bronze medals were won by
- Tipton Harriers' Ryan McLeod in the 5,000m
- Tamworth AC’s Tom Burton in the 400m Hurdles
- Halesowen C and AC’s Nick Crutchley in the Pole Vault
- Birchfield Harriers' Joel Feron in the 100 metres
- Birchfield Harriers' Sinead Gutzmore in the Women’s Triple Jump
- Birchfield Harriers' Nathan Morgan in the Long Jump