STRATFORD Athletic Club’s Paula Williams, Paul Hawkins and Phil Brennan won seven medals between them to help the British team to second place at the European Masters Athletics Indoor Championships in Madrid last week.
Brennan opened his account on Monday – the first day – with the 3,000m for athletes aged 75 and over. He surged to a 30m lead with six laps to go, but was ultimately unable to hold off the finishing speed of two Spaniards and a Swede. He finished just outside the medals in fourth place, but his time of 13:33.82 was a club record for his age group.
He was back in action three days later for the 800m and this time fortune was on his side. British No 1 John Batchelor looked set for an easy victory, but then fell on the last lap and did not recover. A similar thing happened to a German competitor with just 20m remaining, whilst Brennan hopped over his opponent to claim silver in a club record 3:03.16.
He returned to the track 24 hours later for the 1,500m and, in a race dominated by a Spanish opponent, ran a well-judged race to take the bronze medal in 6:14.90.
Brennan ended his campaign on a high in the 5km cross country event, held in windy conditions. He picked up another individual bronze medal and helped Britain to the team gold medal. It meant he left Madrid with four medals, including at least one of each colour.
Williams also returned home with multiple medals and a pair of personal bests.
She started with the 60m sprint for athletes aged 45 and over. After showing consistent form throughout the rounds, Williams narrowly missed out on a medal by one place, but was rewarded with a lifetime best of 8.24.
Fired up by her experience in the flat sprint, Williams then turned her attention to the 60m hurdles and once again she breezed through the heats and ended up taking the bronze medal in the final, clocking a personal best of 9.44.
She then ventured outdoors for the final day of the championships to compete in the javelin. Williams battled the windy conditions to produce a best of 33.20m and take the bronze medal, just 21cm behind the silver medallist.
While Brennan and Williams have represented Britain in the past, club-mate Hawkins was making his international debut. The club chairman was recovering from a bout of flu but was determined to make the most of his experience in the 5km race walk for athletes aged 60 and over.
He came away with a personal best of 32:36 to finish 13th individually, helping Britain to a team bronze medal in the event.