Weekend News Report - 1st September 2019
Giles’ 3:56 Mile Caps Twighlight Meeting Success
On Friday evening, the Club hosted the Tonbridge Twilight Invitational meeting, at Tonbridge School Track. Featuring a host of national and international class athletes, the event was inspired by similar meetings held more than thirty years ago. Not since those events, back in the 1980s, has the venue witnessed the level of performances that occurred on Friday.
The programme of events was selected to showcase a number of local stars, with two additional races set up in the final few days. The previous weekend’s British Championships had left a handful of athletes needing a qualifying time to guarantee selection for the World Championships and the Tonbridge meet offered a last gasp opportunity before selection meetings.
The meeting opened with one of these two races, the 3000 metres steeplechase, which was won by Phil Norman of Woodford Green in 8.29.54, just over half a second away from guaranteeing himself a slot on the British team for Doha, having finished runner-up at the previous weekend’s British Championships.
The triathlon then opened, being sponsored by Ashford-based John Bancroft and included the Javelin, High Jump and a 400 metres, featuring a number of the country’s top decathletes. Lewis Church, of Tonbridge AC came out on top and included a Javelin personal best of 55.08m, plus a 2.00m High Jump and 51.48 for 400 metres.
Races for the under 13s and 15s were included in the programme, before twelve top sprinters ran the heats and finals of the men’s 100 metres, sponsored by Lifetime Financial Services. Tommy Ramdhan of Bexley, won the final in 10.34, to record the fastest ever time on the Tonbridge School track, with Romell Glave of Croydon second in 10.35.
Men’s and women’s 3000 metre races followed and were supported by the Springbank Clinic in Sevenoaks and RA Mason and Son Landscape Gardeners. Kieran Clements of Shaftesbury Barnet won the men’s race in 8.07.59 and Rio Olympian Muriel Coneo Paredes, of Colombia, the women’s race in 9.10.27.
The respective 400 metre races were sponsored by Libation Bar Events and Lion Insurance and won in swift times by Dan Putnam, of Blackheath and Bromley in 48.22 and Nicole Kendall of Kingston in 54.62.
The final three events all saw performances that bettered the fastest ever times at the Tonbridge School venue. Rebecca Mehra, from USA, took a narrow victory over GB international and European indoor finalist, Mari Smith, in the 800 metres, with a time of 2.02.99. A race sponsored by Stella Bandu, of Ashford Athletic Club.
The men’s mile, supported by Fryza Bannister Accountants, was arguably the highlight of the evening as three-time British 800m champion Elliot Giles, from Birchfield, produced a storming performance to win in 3.56.47, from Tonbridge AC’s James West with 3.57.94. These were the first ever sub four minute miles recorded at the track and possibly in Kent.
The evening climaxed with another attempt at World Championship qualifying standards, as the top two at the British Championships, Spencer Thomas, from Brighton and Guy Learmonth, from Scotland were joined by Irish international, Mark English. A super fast first lap set them up for an opportunity to hit the 1.45.80 standard, but all three were to just come agonisingly short. English won in 1.45.98, with Thomas recording a 1.46.08 pb and Learmonth third in 1.46.31, which would easily have been the three fastest ever times at Tonbridge.
The event drew an estimated crowd of near a thousand, who roared on the athletes to these performances and was hailed as a tremendous success by athletes and spectators alike
The Club’s over 35s squad captured both the men’s and women’s titles, in the Southern Counties Veterans League, at the final on Sunday. Having won the Kent division titles earlier in the season, they travelled to Ashford in the hope of bettering last year’s results when the women were second and the men third. They did that in fine style with both teams storming to victory.
The Tonbridge squad has strengthened each year, having only had three seasons in the competition, led by team manager Mark Pitcairn-Knowles. He predicted strong performances from the squad, but hadn’t expected two victories. On the day Tonbridge convincingly won the women’s championship with 261 points, ahead of Southampton with 210 and four other clubs, whilst the men won with 238, with Southampton on 217.
The team wins were built around covering 44 events in both the men’s and women’s competitions and although many were experienced at their discipline others had focussed training in new ones in order to maximise points for the team.
The women produced some excellent individual wins, with Nicki Buckwell, in the over 60 age group, capturing the 100m in 16.46 and 400m in 81.23. Liz Weeks produced an over 35, 800m and 1500m double in 2.27.98 and 5.06.58, whilst it was good to see Maria Heslop back in action after injury with over 50 wins at 1500m in 5.34.61 and 3000m in 11.40.22. Grazia Manzotti, one of the hardest working and supportive of club members, won the over 50, 800 metres with a personal best of 2.55.12.
Nina Ridge (26.52m) and Diane Bradley (22.09m) produced Discus wins, in the over 35 and 50 age groups, respectively, with Bradley also winning the 2000m walk in 12.45.7. The final victories, from the women, came in both relays where the squad ran a swift 56.07 to win the 4x100 metres and 4.37.84 to win the 4x400 metres.
The men’s squad contained double winners on the day in Steve Tester who had success in the over 35, 200 metres in 23.94 and Triple Jump with 11.11m. Andy Howey was busy winning the over 50, 800 metres in 2.20.8 and 2000m walk in 11.18.09. Ian Crawley, despite struggling with recent injuries, contributed three wins with an over 50, Shot Putt win with 9.42m, a Long Jump victory with 4.70m and maximum points in the Javelin with 29.64m. Phil Coleman captured the over 50, 1500m in 4.47.75 and Ben Reynolds the 3000m, in the same age group, with 9.44.92. Brian Buckwell joined his wife in victory celebrations, having captured the over 60, 400m in 68.83. Then another relay victory came Tonbridge’s way with the 4x100m team recording 48.85. Also of note, Alan Buckle produced a club, over 60 men’s 1500 metres record, when finishing third in 5.17.79.
Also on Sunday, Rebekah O’Brien finished 5th in the England under 17 women’s 400 metres hurdles championship and in the process ran 44.45 to break Megan Southwart’s eleven year old club record