Southern Athletics League

Chichester were edged out in their opening Southern Athletics League fixture of the season at Andover on Saturday 14th April 2018.


Coming just a week after the final event of the winter programme, the Sussex Road Relays, clubs have had very little time to prepare for the track and field outdoor season. Nevertheless, all four clubs in Saturday’s match produced performances of high quality for this mid-April fixture. Chichester made a great start to the 36-event programme over nearly 5 hours of competition and were leading the others in the early stages. However weaker events during the latter stages meant that they were overhauled and had to settle for fourth place. It would be no surprise, however, if this proved to be Chichester’s toughest match of the whole season and the club is already looking forward to the next league match on Sunday 20th May at Poole.


Match score: 1. Andover & Overton 179 points; 2. Winchester & District 175; Worthing & District Harriers 165; Chichester 132.


Men’s Events

It came as no surprise that Chichester’s in-form middle distance runners should be the most successful of the afternoon with a clean sweep in both 800 and 1500 metres. The club’s fastest runner at the Sussex relays, Ben Collins, used his natural speed and a return to fitness to win the “A” string 800 metres in fine style in a time of 2.01.2 and getting the better of his Winchester rival down the home straight with a convincing burst of speed to win by over a second. Things were more-clear cut in the “B” string where Liam Dunne had his first match for the senior team, having just progressed from the U15’s over the winter. He was only just slower than Ben Collins at 2.01.8 having more than 10 seconds to match over his nearest match rival although club mate Will Broom pushed Liam all the way as a non-scorer to record another fast time of 2.03.2. Will reversed the positions later in the match over Liam Dunne in the 1500 metres although both runners were much too good for the athletes from the other three clubs.


Elsewhere on the track the general standard of sprinting was red hot for such an early stage in the season and for Chichester there were battling runs over 100 metres from Isaac Kilroy and Alex Ioan while Brandon Bell and Max Lambkin tackled the 200 with Brandon and Ben Collins forming the 400 metres pairing. In the gruelling 400 metres hurdles Max Lambkin ran a well-judged race to win the “A” string by exactly a second from his Winchester rival with excellent support from Oscar Hares winning the “B” string, another athlete who has just progressed from the U15 ranks.


In the jumps Ben Collins, Alex Ioan and Max Lambkin were on good form with additional help from newcomers to the team Alex Rivadossi and Thonamachara Phulphan in the triple jump. Regular top veteran thrower Andy Hall was joined by another newcomer Jonathan Russell in shot, discus and hammer, the latter event being of a particularly high standard with the two Worthing throwers near to 50 metres. Andy had one of the busiest afternoons of any of the Chichester athletes with the javelin together with Thonamachara and fitting in the pole vault between his four throwing events to gain 2nd place in the “A” string in the process.


Women’s Events

This was very much a new look team for Chichester’s women with just three of last season’s squad available for this match. As with the men’s squad, there were new athletes who had just come up from the U15’s with Emily Russell having a baptism of fire having to spearhead the sprints in the absence of last season’s pairing of Sophie-Anne Haigh and Rachel Laurie. Emily stuck to her task, helped by Florence Smith and University Student Jenny Jakeman.


It was Jenny Jakeman who had joined up with fellow student Rebecca Brown to score an unexpected double win in the opening track race, the 400 metres hurdles. Together with the double men’s win, this represented the first occasion that Chichester have gained maximum points from the two events. Jenny was not finished on the track as she teamed up with another new U17, Maggie King, in the 400 metres with Maggie doubling up after running the 800 metres earlier in the day. Sophie Wright used her recent good cross-country form to post a good time in the 3000 metres with Rebecca Brown in support. In the field events with no specialist jumpers on display, Florence Smith, Maggie King and again Jenny Jakeman added useful points to the club total.


Lucie Munday was one of the trio of last year’s team together with mother Sarah and for this match brought along elder sister Jennifer to contest all four throws and more than a dozen very useful points to Chichester’s tally. After over four hours of competition the quartet of Emily Russell, Maggie King, Florence Smith and Rebecca Brown even summoned up the energy to tackle the 4 x 400 metres relay at the end of the match. Overall, the match provided a springboard for the rest of the season with a greatly strengthened squad in prospect for the next fixture.