ATHLETICS: Rugby & Northampton AC


Great performances by young athletes in national finals

Rugby & Northampton Athletic Club triumphed over some of Britain’s biggest clubs as they took a superb sixth and seventh in the Youth Development League Finals.

An 80-strong R&N squad shrugged off the absence of three key athletes to record sixth in the upper age group competition at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, ahead of composite teams from Glasgow and Avon. Their young counterparts took seventh in the previous day’s event to complete a memorable season, with many athletes in the first year of the U13 and U15 age groups.

A captain’s performance from Luke Townsend set the tone for the U17 and U20 squad. Townsend took victory in the 400m hurdles A with a new personal best time of 56.81, while team-mate Luke Bromley made it a double as he won the B race with a time of 62.95, also in a new PB time. In his last event as a junior, Townsend went on to snatch a second gold, winning the 110m hurdles in 14.72, while he added a silver in the javelin to his medal haul, throwing a distance of 43.63m.

The club’s male sprinters added a clutch of medals and points to the tally. Zach Stapleton took gold in the U17 100m A in 11.00 and followed that with silver in the 200m A (22.45), missing out on double gold by just 0.07. Caleb Downes picked up silver and bronze in the U20 100m A and 200m A respectively, clocking 10.80 and 21.74 for his efforts.

They were backed by two bronze medals in the B races for vice-captain Clinton Osoba-George (U20 100m, 10.93 and 200m, 22.23) and a gold in the U17 100m B for Tom Cheyne (11.36). Cheyne then went straight in to battle in the long jump, winning in the final round with a huge leap and new PB of 6.59m. Jack Bond (9.21.88) and Ben Musgrove (9.55.21) made it a double in the U17 3000m, taking victory in the A and B races respectively. Adam Wright clocked 4:04 to shave a brilliant 24-seconds off his PB in the U20 1500m.

Josh Arimoro took the only gold of the day in the throws with a new PB in the U20 shot put B of 12.04m, despite still being an U17 athlete. U17 Jonjo Fanning was also throwing in the older age group and took two well-earned silver medals with PB’s in the hammer B (37.96m) and javelin B (39.08m). Club stalwart Nick Scales, also in his last junior match, just missed the 40m mark in the hammer to take fourth spot in the A competition.

A very tired team of Scott McIntyre, Downes, Townsend and Wright, having done 14 events between them, hung on for a bronze medal in the 4x400m to set a new blistering club record of 3:23.51.

There was also a significant contribution from the female team with an excellent steeplechase debut for Lily Carmichael, who ran a measured race to take the bronze medal in the A string with a time of 5.30.11, just ahead of team-mate Kirsty Goddard, who won the B string with 5.31.3. Megan Exley took silver in the U20 javelin with a throw of 35.43m and Evie Harris-Jenkins matched that in the U17’s with an excellent effort of 37.37m.

Tia Clues (U20 javelin B 3rd, U17 200m B 3rd, U20 long jump B 2nd) was in fine form, while Hannah Scales (U20 110m hurdles 2nd, U20 400m hurdles 4th), Grace Adeyinka (U20 triple jump 3rd) and Kiona McLennon (U17 shot-put 3rd) also contributed fine performances. Brittany Wood continued her improvement with a PB time of 12.42 in the U17 80m hurdles A, finishing fourth.

Tom Jasper led the way for the lower age groups as he took an outstanding PB of 36.46 in the U15 300m race to take gold, and added silver in the 200m thanks to another PB of 23.42. Bradley Whitehead was also in the medals in the sprints, his time of 13.53 was enough for third in the U13 100m A race while a PB time of 27.34 saw him finish third in the 200m. Katie Print narrowly missed out on third in the U15 A 100m, clocking 13.01 for fourth. Poppy Carmichael (U15 A, 2.22.76) and Abigail Pearce (U13 A, 2.34.40), both took fourth in the 800m.

A brilliant run of 4.03.90 saw Molly Williams take second in the U13 A 1200m, while the 1500m boys team showed their class as they took second in both A races and first in both B events. Adam Caulfield clocked 4.46.51 on his way to second in the U13 A, while Ben Hope (4.57.03) won the B string. Adam Searle took a PB 4.21.77 to win silver in the U15 A, and Joshua Lay won the B race with a PB 4.27.51.

Georgina Woodward (3rd, 12.07) and Abbie Draper (2nd, 12.09) took medals in the U13 70m A and B races respectively, while R&N celebrated a new club and championship record in the 4x300m relay, as the team of Jay O’Leary, Ewan Roberts, Aidan Leeson and Tom Jasper clocked an outstanding 2.35.77.

Adele Blenkinsop’s PB of 7.96m saw her narrowly miss the podium in the U13 A shot put, though there were medals in the javelin for Ryan Hodges (U15 A 3rd), William Ballinger (U15 B 3rd), Abigail Pearce (U13 A 2nd) and Abigail Ward (U 13 B, 2nd). Ben Gidley threw a massive 39.13 in the U 13 javelin to take second in the A string and a new PB and club record.