Northern Athletics Indoor Championships 12/13th January
Report by Bill McGuirk
DESPITE a huge lack of facilities in the North East many of the region's athletes managed to out-perform their rivals when competing in the Start Fitness-supported Northern Athletics Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
Around 80 competitors representing around a dozen North Eastern Counties clubs made the trip to Yorkshire to contest the two-day joint senior, junior and under-17 championships with many returning home after scaling the podium.
Leading the way in the senior women's section was Wallsend's Danielle Hodgkinson who switched to the boards after early winter success over the country by posting the fastest times in the Druridge Bay, Aykley Heads and Gosforth North Eastern Harrier League fixtures. The Army personel based in Leeming, missed the county cross-cross-country championships as she was visiting friends in Australia where her training targeted racing indoors after an absence of three years. Hodgkinson showed she was in good form when, in the first day's competition, won the 1,500 metres in 4min 25.35sec which was an indoor pb but well outside her best of 4:19.34 outdoors. The Paddy-Dinsmore advised athlete then returned to the EIS arena 24 hours later and certainly showed no signs of weariness as she stormed to an impressive 3,000m victory in 9:32.41 which was only one of a sprinkling of championship records to fall as she knocked over a second off the 2015 figures of Sale's Jenna Hill.
Still with the senior women, Gateshead's Sydney Robertson claimed the pole vault gold medal after a clearance of 2:90 metres while the Tynesider's team-mate Sophie Littlemore was extremely unlucky not to join her on the top of the podium.
Twelve months ago Littlemore finished in second place (13:48m) in the shot competition and it was the same position she finished with this time round despite adding a further 10 centimetres to her 2018 figures. However, only one centimetre was the difference on this occasion as victory went to Sale's Jessica Taylor-Jemmett with a putt of 13:59m.
Next up onto the podium was another Gateshead athlete, Emily Gargan who produced life-time best figures of 5:87m in the long jump which again earned a silver medal. There were three gold medals to celebrate in the senior men's category which came via Jason Nicholson (Gateshead), Crook's Markim Lonsdale and Blyth's Peter Skirrow. Nicholson, last year's junior indoor champion, showed he is equal to competition over the higher barriers by claiming the 60m hurdles title while Skirrow managed to leap out to a new pb of 7:19m in the long jump which was two centimetres further than Gateshead's Daniel Walsh who claimed the silver medal. Lonsdale, like Nicholson, a GB junior international, was having his first indoor competition for two years - he won the under-20 gold medal on the same track in 2017 - but was up to the task by claiming the 800m title in 1:54.78.
Gateshead's Harrison Whitfield was the region's lone gold medalist in the under-20 men's division after setting a new pb of 13:92m to win the triple jump. Durham City's Luke Pickering finished in second place in the 3,000m while there were bronze medals for Gateshead duo Declan Murray and Kyle Walton. Murray equalled his pb of 3:80m in the pole vault while Walton ran faster than ever before to finish third in the 60m in 7:09s, just edging out Jarrow and Hebburn's Josh Errington who finished fourth in an identical time!
New Marske's Elicia Smith lined up for her first-ever 3,000m and she made it a winning debut. Competing in the under-20 women's section, Smith had over a two-second cushion at the finish to take the title in 10:35.18. There were silver medals for Amy Carter (Middlesbrough Mandale) and Gateshead's Amelia Bateman.
Carter finished runner-up in the 60m hurdles in 8.96s while Bateman, who also finished second last year in the high jump with a clearance of 1:71m, picked up the silver medal after a best height of 1:68m.
The North East claimed six medals in the under-17 men's age group, two of which were gold. Victory went to Middlesbrough Mandale's Daniel Payne in the 1,500m in 4:02.94 with Houghton's Henry Johnson finishing runner-up in 4:08.32.
Halpin, meanwhile, after moving up an age group after previously dominating the under-15 shot, discus and hammer national rankings, produced a putt of 15:66 with the new 5k weight to claim victory.
North Shields Poly's James Wordsworth finished runner-up behind Halpin after producing a new pb of 14:61. Blaydon's Aaron Lillistone produced a superb new pb of 8.94s in his first year at the new age group to claim the silver medal in the 60m hurdles while Gateshead's Josh McKeown finished in third place in the 200m in 22.75s after recording 22.72s in the heats. Gateshead athletes claimed three medals in the under-17 women's age group with Birtley also among the medals.
The International Stadium based club had Lucy Giles in second place in the shot (11:74m) with Joy Eze producing a lifetime-best of 7.69s in the 60m to also claim the silver medal.
Former English Schools' under-15 800m champion Ava Taperell was Gateshead's other medallist after finishing third in the 300m in 42.83. Birtley's Molly Elliott, meanwhile, claimed an excellent silver medal in the pole vault after clearing 3:40m which was just two centimetres short of her life-time best.
While it's a feather in the cap for all of the medallists the experience gained by those who missed out is unmeasurable and it shows the commitment of athletes and their coaches in the North East how important taking part in championship events is and is crucial in the development for athletes and their mentors.
ENGLAND ATHLETICS E.G.M
All clubs should have received information about an EGM being called by England Athletics in London on Wednesday 30th January to vote on proposed changes to the way Regional Councils are formed.
Regional Councils exist to convey information, opinions, etc from the grass roots up to the board of England Athletics, and also the other way around. They intended to be the channel of communication through the sport.
The current councils are coming to the conclusion of their bi-annual rota and new bodies will need to be formed shortly with newly elected persons to continue and develop this work.
The proposed changes are explained in the literature posted out by EA. They need to be voted on either to support or, alternatively, turn down these proposals.
With the board having decided to hold the meeting on a Wednesday night in London commencing at 7.00 p.m., it is obvious that there will be very few (if any) persons from the North East present, and clubs are therefore advised to fill in the proxy voting form enclosed with the the EA literature, these forms have to be returned BEFORE Monday 28th January.
The existing members of the North East Regional Council are listed in the NECAA handbook page 5.
Chris Betts, current chair, email@example.com, 0191 410 3104
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NECAA Road Relay Championshps - 16th February 2019
Hetton Lyons Country Park, hosted by Houghton Harriers.
INTER COUNTIES CROSS COUNTRY
Selection for the North East teams for the 2019 Inter Counties Cross Country Championships which take place on Saturday 9th March at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough, will be made on Sunday 27th January – the day after the Northern Cross Country Championships at Pontefract.
The first three finishers in each age group at the North East Championships have gained automatic selection, leaving five places plus reserves still to be decided. Anyone wishing to be considered is advised to run the Northerns at Pontefract: entries close 11th January.
If you are unable to run the Northerns and would like to be considered for selection please contact:
Stewy Bell firstname.lastname@example.org (mens team) or Lynn Cooper email@example.com (womens team)