It’s been a golden ten days for Herne Hill Harriers sprinting starlet Kristal Awuah who has won 100m gold medals at both the Southern and National Under 20 championships in successive weekends.
Over the weekend of 10/11 June, at the South of England Championships at Crystal Palace Awuah won the Under 20 women’s 100m final in 11.99 seconds despite running into a strong 3.4 headwind. With that fine confidence boosting result and an area title under her belt, Awuah went on to outperform everyone in ideal race conditions the following Saturday at the England Athletics National Under 20 Championships at the Bedford International Stadium when she put together a perfect series of 100m races setting PB times in each round. Awuah won her heat in 11.72, the semi-final in 11.71 and then stormed to a great victory in the final in a magnificent 11.61. This winning time not only reset her personal best again, but broke both the Herne Hill club Under 20 women’s record and also a very good senior women’s 100m record which had stood for 16 years.
Awuah was last year’s English Schools Senior Girls 100m champion and having made a late start to her summer season has now really blossomed, stringing together a superb series of race results. Awuah now looks forward to defending that English Schools 100m Senior Girls title in Birmingham in July and beyond that to the rest of what should be an exciting summer of sprint racing for her.
The Herne Hill club limelight during Awuah’s golden fortnight had been stolen by the club’s newest Great Britain senior international athlete, Katie Snowden, whose debut at this level was something of a baptism of fire as she represented her country in the big televised European Athletics Team Championship in Lille on Saturday 24 June. This was not because of the sort of fierce pace seen in the Diamond League races (Snowden will surely be racing in those meetings soon enough), rather the opposite, as a field full of sub 2 minute 800m runners opted to stroll the first lap, presenting a very different and much more tactical problem. Snowden coped very well given she was ranked towards the bottom of the line up in terms of their PB times and placed ninth in 2.05.19 for what will be very important big meeting experience and race practice ahead of this coming weekend's British World Championship Team Trials meeting in Birmingham, where she will contest the 1500m.
There was very strong Herne Hill representation at the BMC races at Eltham on Wednesday 21 June with a standout run from Chloe Tighe, who won the prestigious BMC City Mile women's prize for the second consecutive year with a tremendous finishing burst in the final 250m to record a PB of 4.42.23. There was also a superb second place run in the BMC Women's 800m Challenge race for Under 20 athlete Mollie O'Sullivan who clocked an excellent PB of 2.08.31. Next month O’Sullivan will race at the English Schools Championship and will then represent an England South Under 20 team in the Welsh Athletics International meeting in Cardiff.
Harriers athletes were also in evidence at the BMC Grand Prix at Watford on Saturday. Lascelles Hussey was within a whisker of his recent 1500m PB in clocking a good 3.48.01. Hussey will next be racing in the men’s 1500m at the British Trials meeting in Birmingham on Saturday on what will be his twentieth birthday. Mike Cummings was baulked in his 1500m race during the final lap, but this didn't prevent a season's best run of 3.55.42. Another good season's best performance came was in one of the women's 800m races, with second claim member Fiona de Mauny sticking with a fast first lap and then hanging on to run 2.11.76, with sub a 2.10 time now looking a very realistic target for her.
The week’s race action was rounded off at Sunday's British Masters Championship at Birmingham where Herne Hill athletes won national medals. Gary Ironmonger led boldly from the front to win the M55 800m, covering his first 400m in 64-65 seconds and he then made his strength tell on the second lap when the others fell off his pace at a faster rate. Ironmonger’s gold medal time was 2.14.49, his fastest in 2017 so far and almost as fast as his quickest time for the whole of last year. Stuart Thurgood won M40 gold medals in both the hammer with 50.24m and the 15.88Kg weight throw with 15.44m, while Tony Macdowall won a silver medal in the M35 3000m steeplechase in 10.37.23, which is the fastest he has run for seven years and less than ten seconds outside his PB as he continues to round into good form. Our Herne Hill veteran athletes seem to improve with age.