Weekend News Report - 3rd/4th August 2019
Tonbridge Gain Second Promotion, Whilst Driscoll Smashes Steeplechase Record
The Club's men's team produced an epic winning performance in the final match of the British Athletics League, on Saturday, to win the Division Three title and gain promotion for the second year in a row. The night before, at Birmingham, Ryan Driscoll smashed the club's 3000 metres steeplechase record, by more than five seconds, recording 8.40.11, at Birmingham.
The men's team travelled to Basingstoke and prior to the fixture were just one point ahead in the eight-club division, with the hosts threatening to topple them. Basingstoke, with home advantage, led for much of the afternoon, which totalled seventeen events of A and B string athletes, plus the two relays. Incredibly though it all came down to the final event, the 4x400 metres relay, as the teams were tied on the day.
The Tonbridge relay quartet of Jack Lennard, Ben Murphy, Lewis Collins and Sean Molloy, ran with great conviction, cheered on by the rest of the squad and supporters. They ran 3.16.38, to win by more than four seconds, with Basingstoke in second. The time also broke the eight year old Tonbridge club record by a massive 4.6 seconds.
The final scores on the day saw Tonbridge with 398 to Basingstoke on 396, with Trafford, from Manchester, on 314. This clinched promotion for both Tonbridge and Basingstoke, with Tonbridge taking the title. The club only qualified for the British League last year for the first time and immediately won the Division Four title last Summer.
Other than the relay win there were track A-string victories for Sean Molloy (800m, 1.51.63) and Kieran Reilly (5000m, 14.53.70). The only field event victory came from Lewis Church in the Shot Putt with 12.93 metres. However, the final result was secured with many contributing points. Having the club's top four multi eventers available helped, with the likes of David Fullbrook (Javelin 50.62m pb) and Alex Hookway (Pole Vault 3.60m pb, Discus 35.80m pb) having excellent days, plus international Harry Kendall throwing and jumping.
Friday evening also proved fruitful for two Tonbridge distance runners. Ryan Driscoll raced at Birmingham in an invitation steeplechase, which featured eleven of the country's top ranked athletes. Driscoll produced an excellent race to finish third in 8.40.11, lowering his Tonbridge club record by 4.5 seconds, that he set in last year's British Championships. The race was won by Phil Norman, of Woodford Green, who ran 8.30.43, missing the World Championships qualifying time by just over a second.
Also, on Friday, Dom Brown won the Soar Mile Elite Men's race at Stratford, East London. Brown won in 4.01.97, pulling clear of Josh Carr from Cambridge, by more than two seconds and improving his pb by almost five seconds.
The Tonbridge under 13 and 15 squad had their final match in the Kent Young Athletes League, at Gillingham on Sunday, with their A and B teams maintaining their division one status, by finishing 4th and 5th of the eight clubs. A-String wins included Elicia Lacey in the u13 girls 70m hurdles with 11.8, which equalled her own club record. Also in the under 13s Millie Lewis won the Shot Putt and Javelin with 8.41m and 30.23m, respectively. Saskia Lean was the only under 15 winner, scaling 1.50m in the High Jump.
There were a number of Tonbridge members competing in the East Peckham 10k road race on Sunday. Dan Bradley finished 2nd overall in 34.56 with 4th Harry Paton (35.14) and 6th Luke Hooper (35.50 pb). Claire Day won the women's race in 39.04, which was a pb, from Nichola Evans in 2nd with 42.11 also a pb.
Tonbridge Athletic Club, with the help of Tonbridge School, will be hosting the Twilight Invitational Meeting, on the evening of Friday 30th August.
The aim is to showcase some of the country's top athletes, alongside some of the best from Tonbridge Athletic Club.
The evening will start at 6.30pm with some junior races and will culminate with the men's mile at 8.30pm, when it is hoped a few will attempt the first four-minute clocking on the Tonbridge School Track.
Sponsors have been signed up to support each event, although there are still a few opportunities left to get involved.
Food and drink will be available on the evening and entry is free to spectators, with a free programme included.
Lizzie Yarnold, who was a member of Tonbridge AC in her teens and went on to capture gold medals at two Winter Olympics, has promised to be on hand at the event and help with presentations.
It is hoped that members of the local community will come along to Tonbridge School Sports Centre and the track to enjoy a couple of hours of action.