ALL four Stratford Athletic Club members who competed at the two-day British Masters Championships came away from Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium with medals around their necks.
In what was the final edition of the championships to be held at the home of British Athletics prior to work commencing on the stadium in readiness for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the Stratford quartet faced not only the cream of Britain’s athletes aged 35 and over, but also wet and extremely windy conditions.
Club chairman Paul Hawkins picked up a pair of silver medals in the M60 racewalking events. First up was the 3,000m and he settled into second place, tracked by Hardeep Minhas. Hawkins was overtaken by Minhas after five laps but stayed just behind his opponent until the final 120m.
He then started to overtake and Minhas responded, but Minhas was eventually disqualified for bending his knees. It meant Hawkins finished second to claim the silver medal in 18:41.88 – 25 seconds shy of his season’s best in a race hampered by the wind.
The conditions were much the same the next day when Hawkins lined up for the 5,000m race walk. As was the case in the 3,000m, Steve Allen went off quickly and Hawkins was fairly isolated, but he maintained a steady pace to finish runner-up in 32:00.71 and claim his second silver medal of the weekend.
“I was very happy with the two silvers,” said Hawkins. “The times were slow, but irrelevant in the conditions. I will get gold at these championships some time – that’s six silvers in three years!”
David Jones, author of this piece, was delighted to pick up a bronze medal in the M65 800m, clocking 2:52.31 a day after finishing fourth in the 1,500m (5:57.84).
Although he missed out on a medal in the longer event, he was pleased to make up significant ground in the latter stages, having taken the bell some eight seconds behind the fourth-placed runner, whom he was able to overtake in the final 50m.
While his times were a bit slower than he would have liked, he was nevertheless happy with his performances in the difficult conditions.
Two of SAC’s medallists will be representing their country next month at the European Masters Championships in Venice.
Phil Brennan competed in the M75 5,000m and 800m with barely a couple of hours break in between. He finished fourth in the 5,000m in one of the strongest M75 races ever held over the distance in the UK. His time of 23:07.77 was his fastest clocking for the distance for two years.
He then moved on to the 800m in which he claimed the bronze medal in 3:13.44, some 20 seconds clear of the fourth-placed runner.
Sprinter and high-jumper Andy Reeves earned a bronze medal in the M35 high jump with 1.60m, just 5cm shy of his season’s best.