Track and Field Review 2009

“A Year of Varying Fortunes”

2009 was a year of varying fortunes for the club with outstanding successes in some areas and considerable disappointments in others. This review cannot detail every achievement, but attempts to provide a broad review of its activities on the Track & Field.

The International Arena

With the two dominant figures of recent years having a lean time (Liz Yelling on maternity leave and Paula Radcliffe injured for much of the year) one may have anticipated a quieter time in the International Arena, but this was far from the truth.

Paula completed a New York Double with the Marathon title in November 2008 and the Half Marathon in August 2009. Mark Draper and Katrina Wootton competed in their respective finals of the 3000m in Turin at the European Indoor Championships with the former pace making Mo Farah to a memorable victory.

Robbie Grabarz represented G.B. on three occasions including making the final of the European U23 Championships, and then at the opposite side of the globe won the New Zealand High Jump championships. Scott Johnson and Lucy James gained their first ever G.B. U20 vests in the High Jump and 4 x 400m relay respectively, whilst Lucy went on to represent GB in the European Youth Olympic Festival where she made the final of the 400m.

Hannah Frith got her first taste of international competition winning the High Jump in the Schools International in Dublin; and at the other end of the age scale, Alek Swiecicki took the gold in the M60 2000mSteeplechase in a British Record at the World Masters Championships, whilst Tennyson James won a Bronze in the M50 60m Hurdles at the European Indoor Championships.

Jack Gambrill was arguably our most successful athlete in the International Arena winning nine medals (six of which were Gold) in the World Dwarf Games. Five of the medals were in athletics.

The National Stage

More than a dozen athletes ranked in the National Top Ten (Power of Ten Ranking) in their age group; eight were in the top five and Katrina Wootton and Robbie Grabarz topped their ranking lists.

Robbie and Scott Johnson both won National titles; whilst six athletes (Lucy James, Mark Draper, Katrina Wootton, Jake Devereux, Emily Wallbank and Jack Goodwin) gained silvers; and a further two (Matt Devereux and Hannah Frith) gained bronze.

Many more athletes gained medals at the South of England Championships.

Barry Johnson received a very well deserved Award from Athletics England – East as “Development Coach of the Year” for his work with young athletes.  Many congratulations!

16 Club Records Set (of which 10 survived) and 21 (14 surviving) more in the Masters

Whilst the number of records set this year is down on previous years, one must not forget that each time the standard is raised it makes it harder to beat the next year. The standard of our records is really very, very high indeed - most of our all-time records would rank in this year’s top ten performances, so it takes something special to break them.

Team Successes and Disappointments

The women obviously find life in the UK Women’s Athletic League much to their liking. Newly promoted to National League Division 4 in 2008, they excelled, and were crowned champions. In 2009, they did it again and topped Division 3. What does life hold for them amongst the top sixteen clubs when they compete in Division Two next year?

Meanwhile the men cold not avoid the drop this year and went down from BAL Div 3 to Div. 4. despite Matt Devereux winning Man of the Match on two of the four Matches.

In the Seniors-only Southern Women’s League Division 1, the team finished mid table; whilst the men were just pipped for promotion from SML Division 3 North, finishing equal on points with the top two promoted clubs.

In the 10 in 100 Cup, both men’s and women’s team went out in the semi-finals.

The young athletes finished third in the Eastern Young Athletes League, but dropped to sixth in the EYAL Top Six Final.  They cold not hold their place this year in the Southern Premier Division of the National Young Athletes League and drop into Division 1 East in 2010.

The composite Team Bedfordshire gained fifth place out of seven teams in the Thames Division of the National Junior League.

The Men’s Masters Team was crowned champions in both the EVAC League and the Cup final; whilst the Women were a consistent sixth place in each of these competitions.

With apologies for any errors and omissions.

Dennis Johnson 22.10.09