The new Kip Keino Athletic Stadium at the Bristol Academy of Sport Complex at Filton College’s Stoke Gifford Campus was launched on Tuesday 22nd November 2010 with some taster events for the various VIPs and other guests there to witness Kip Keino himself open the stadium that bears his name. Men’s and women’s 3,000 metre races were held together with 100 metre and 400 metre wheelchair races. In the field there was a shot putt competition together with a Pole Vault demonstration.
Despite earlier expectations that James Thie would bring his endurance group over from Cardiff and invitations being sent to some other notable athletes based close to Bristol, the fields were largely made up from Bristol-based athletes, although Tom Curr and Amber Watson made the journey down from Stroud. The weather conditions were, fortunately, dry – as the forecast that the rain would hold off until around 10 p.m. was proved to be pretty accurate (it started raining just after 9 p.m.). However, the wind more than made up for the lack of rain. With athletes out of their comfort zone already racing on the track in November the conditions put paid to any hope of fast races. However, the races were still worthy of the name.
In the first race a Wheelchair 100 metres Scott Hillier (Yate AC) won in 23.1 from Mel Nicholls, also Yate AC – second in 27.8 and Chloe Ball-Hopkins (Cheltenham Harriers) third in 28.5.
The Women’s 3,000 metres saw a group of 4 break away early on with first Hannah Alderson and then Imogen Ainsworth at the front. Despite a late decision to run due to a knee niggle, Imogen was clearly out to maintain club bragging rights but Rebekah Randell was never too far behind. The race between the two of them drew them clear of Hannah Alderson who by 2,000 metres was a clear third of Debbie Marsden, who was on her way to converting her good road form into a PB on the track despite the conditions. Imogen pushed for the line over the last lap and was rewarded with a win in 10:05.9 in difficult conditions. Behind her Rebekah Randell chased hard but had to give way as she finished second in 10:07.5. In third place Hannah Alderson ran 10:17.6 for third place. Debbie Marsden was fourth in 10:25.5 (taking 16 seconds off her PB) and Amber Watson ran a lonely fifth in 10:57.1. Floren Scrafton made a welcome return to the track but her 11:16.5 shows she has some work to do to recover her form of a year or two ago – but it is great to see her back in regular training and racing. Diana Kennedy of Woodford Green and Essex Ladies completed the field in seventh place in 11:23.6.
In the second wheelchair race of the night Scott Hillier (1:28.6) defeated Mel Nicholls (1:55.3) both are relative newcomers to the sport and it was really good to see them competing. My thanks to Job King for supporting them both at the event.
The final track race of the night saw UK Under-23 bronze medalist Steve Mitchell hit the front from the off. A move which was quickly covered by Tom Curr and the two principle protagonists spent 5 laps with Steve forcing the pace and Tom following. At the 2,000 metre point Steve pushed on and Tom Curr settled for second place. Behind these two, the two under-17s of Bristol & West – Zak Tobias and Luke Jacobs – mixed it with the elder athletes from the University (also members of Bristol & West) – Chris Dodd and Andy Woods – before the two 3,000 metre debutantes got away as Chris finished third in 9:01.1 and Andy fourth in 9:09.1. Zak and Luke showed that their winter training is going well as they finished fifth and sixth in 913.7 and 9:17.3 – not too far off their PBs given the conditions. Greg Halliwel (Stroud) was another athlete racing over distance as he finished seventh in 9:37.6. Peter Northall of the University and Bristol & West finished eighth in 9:43.6 as he continues to gain racing experience. Finally special mention to Zac Marsh and Lewis Nightingale who battled the conditions to finish ninth and tenth in 10:12 and 10:59.3 respectively.
Like Keith Brackstone and Job King on the track, Chris Preston struggled to convince throwers that a November competition was a good idea but nevertheless managed to get five throwers to compete in a mixed competition and here four athletes did travel from Cardiff. James Preston took the lead with a putt of 12:25 in the first round as Matt Field no-putted. However, a 15:56 putt gave Matt the lead in the second round, which he extended with a putt of 15:70 in the fifth round. James putt 13:12 in the third round and 13:04 in the sixth round to finish second. Daniel Morris threw 12:52 in the fourth round to take second place and Sarah Benson putt 12:44 in the final trial. Holly Field threw consistently throughout with a best of 6:71 in the third round.
Three of the five athletes then held a competition with James Preston winning with a throw of 13:32 – his best of the night – as Matt Field rested on his laurels from the first competition. Sarah Benson was runner up with her best putt 12:74 coming with her twelfth throw of the night. Dan Morris finished third with a putt of 11:91.
Martyin Davies’ pole vault group put on an exhibition but the wind was so strong that they were jumping with a bungee rather than a bar – which just would not stay on in the high winds. They deserve a special mention for persevering in what must have been the most difficult conditions they have ever tried vaulting in.
My thanks to several members of the club, various contacts in and around the county and the staff at Filton College who came together to put on a good taster of what is to come at the Kip Keino Athletics Stadium in years to come. My thanks also to the club members and members of Wesport who helped to stage a Quad Kids competition with athletes in 8 teams from 6 Junior Schools from Bristol and South Gloucestershire prior to the senior competitions. I hope these young athletes enjoyed a 75 metre sprint, a 600 metre steady run, a standing long jump and throwing a howler – these types of events give the under-11s a good taste of track and field athletics and hopefully many of them might just get a taste for the sport and follow up their interest with Bristol & West Athletics Club.
Watch out for coverage of the opening on the local TV, press and radio.