UWIC Grand Prix – SUnday 11 December 2011

December once again sees the start of the Indoor Season where we can begin to measure the progress that Winter Training is bringing to our Athletes. The UWIC Grand Prix (1) at Cardiff saw 25 athletes either from the Club or from Bristol University, with athletes who train at Whitehall.  This was a fine turnout particularly encouraged by Coaches Cy KNIBB & Alastair ABRAMS who took most of their squads for this early work out.

Star attraction for me was the warming sight of a Senior Bristol & West athlete winning a Women’s Sprint.  It was a great sight.  That athlete was Hannah WILLIAMS a new signing from Cardiff AAC who won her 60m heat in an impressive 8.16 secs.  I know we have top Sprinters Emily DIAMOND & Emma HEATH and new signing Bethan WAKEFIELD to also call upon but it was becoming a rare sight to see a B&W Vest so far in front in a big race. Well done Hannah.

It was also heartening to note from the results that Under-17 Alyssa SMALL ran an excellent 8.24 60m at Eton last weekend.  At last we are showing a growing depth of Women Sprinters to call on.

On the Men’s side I note the emergence of young Chris STONE. Chris has just moved into the Under-20 age group and encouraged by his Coach Alastair ABRAMS he came through with a magnificent 7.25 sec clocking in the 60m. Chris also moved up to try a 300m and again clocked a noteable time of 37.72 but boy did he suffer in the last few strides to feel the full force of a race further than 200m?  Don’t worry Chris it gets easier with experience.  The other bright light in Alastair’s stable is Under-17 Jack DYER who ran sound 60m & 300m races to clock 7.65 & 39.52 times.

Our Pole Vaulters always manage to get into the spotlight and Sunday was no exception.  Luke BAILEY is now based at UWIC and put the experience gained to good use with an outstanding vault of 4.20m to win the Senior event. Under-20 multi-eventer James TAYLOR vaulted a sound 3.30m following a Long Jump of 5.50.

In the Womens 600m I noted from the programme that the Welsh Record is still held by Bristol athlete Kirsty McDERMOT T with a 1:30.16 clocking in 1985.  Memories? Our 2 athletes competing were a way off this remarkable time but it is really great to note the re-emergence of two girls from the past.  Georgie SALMON and Aimee DAVIES were the two in question who along with Lora TUCKER have come back to the Club after lapses of a few years to re-establish themselves as noteable middle distance runners in the Cy KNIBB training group.  Both Georgie and Aimee ran with good early pace but tailed off a little by the end to clock 1:46.3 & 1:47.18 respectively.

In the Men’s 600m Andrew DEAN-YOUNG (boy-friend to Hannah WILLIAMS if you ever wonder how we signed her) ran in a magnificent head to head with come-back king Martin FLOOK.  Martin took the pace on early and built up a reasonable lead in the first two laps but Andrew struck back coming into the bell and powered away to a magnificent 1:22.31 clocking.  Martin finished with a creditable 1:25.45 time.  In a separate race young Sam BEDWELL kept his powder dry for another sparkling finish in coming second in 1:29.34 and this followed a 39.26 second 300 metres.

The 3,000m was to be another outstanding race that we all awaited with great expectation.  (I also note from the programme that Welsh All-Comers Record holders for 3,000m are Bristol Athletes, Men Rob WHALLEY 7:53.63 in 2000 & Women Kate REED 9:18.95 in 2004).  The ‘A’ race had a large field of 17
runners and included a pacemaker.  The pace was hot with the intention of pulling Belgrave’s Steve Davies under 8:05 minutes but our own Steve MITCHELL was set to use that pace to his own end.  The pair pursued the pacemaker relentlessly and dropped the whole of the rest of this large field until with just under 1km to go Davies went away leaving Steve stranded in no man’s land.  Steve throttled down at this stage and was eventually passed for second place but he had made a magnificent effort and clocked a time of 8:19.4. Just behind him Mike WILSMORE showed a welcome return to form taking 15 seconds off his PB with an 8:21.4 clocking. Chris DODD (better known as an 800m runner) clocked 8:41.9 in 10th place and over-55 Dave BEDWELL clocked 10:21.4 in the ‘B’ race.

Mike Strange Reports