Olympic trio did us all proud

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MORPETH Harriers were very proud to have three of their members taking part in the Olympic Games in London and although they were not medal winners they can all feel justly proud of their efforts, despite their contrasting fortunes, writes George Patterson.

The finest achievement was undoubtedly that from their youngest, Lesbury’s Laura Weightman. Her semi final-run on the evening of Wednesday, August 8, where she clocked a new lifetime best of 4m02.99s, which was also a new Morpeth Harriers club record, was truly outstanding and was well worthy of a place in the final.

So it was then on to Friday, August 10 at 8.55pm for the race that will be etched in the memories of everyone at the club.

It was a messy tactical race that saw the 13-strong field take all of 75 seconds to complete the first 400 metres.

This certainly did not work out well for either Laura, or her Team GB team-mate Lisa Dobriskey, and the 21-year-old eventually crossed the finish line in 11th place in a time of 4m15.60s.

A bruised and badly spiked Laura afterwards was very quick to acknowledge that although there was some disappointment, she still felt able to take this wonderful experience forward for the future and she added thanks to all of her supporters.

Laura’s mother Dianne and other members of her family were all present in the Olympic Stadium to witness her great moment and no doubt offered her the much needed arm of support when required.

Morpeth Harriers clubmate Nick McCormick can regard himself a little unlucky not to make it further than the semi-finals of the Men’s 5000m event on the morning of Wednesday, August 8.

Running in the second heat of two, where it was a case of the first five in each then five fastest losers over the two heats to qualify, Nick finished 12th in 13m25.70s – a time ironically had he ran in the slower first heat would have seen him finish third, and qualify as of right.

The club’s Mongolian International Serod Batochir’s Olympic dreams ended in disappointment on The Mall in London on Sunday.

He finished 51st in the Men’s Marathon in a time of 2hrs20mins10secs, which is a good nine minutes adrift of his best of 2hrs11mins06s that he set in Japan earlier this year and is a Morpeth Harriers club record.

Having run just short of this time in the 2011 London Marathon, Batochir had every confidence of finishing in a top Olympic place, however Sunday’s unexpected, untimely heat-wave certainly took its toll on him, especially in the second half of the race.

He was well placed for a good time at halfway, provided he could maintain even pace, going through in 65m12s.

However, he quickly lost ground in the later stages and it was notable that he was close to his personal best time for the full distance as he went through the point of 2k still remaining.

l Recent Morpeth 10k winner Nick Swinburn finished third to Wallsend’s Ethiopian Yarod Hagos in Sunday’s Sherwood’s Vauxhall sponsored Darlington 10k in a time of 31m22s, which in turn saw him a minute adrift. Second place went to New Marske’s Mark Shaw, who clocked 30m35s.

Morpeth Harrier Neil Wilkinson was the second Veteran man to finish, placing 8th in 33m31s. Next home for the club was Michael Thomsen, who was 20th in 35m05s. Another Morpeth Harrier well up the field was Gordon Dixon, who was second Over 50 Veteran Man in 36m54s.

l In Saturday’s Chester-le-Street 5k Park Run, Morpeth Harrier Sarah Wilkinson broke the Women’s course record, taking victory in 17m31s.

In the Durham equivalent, Terry Wall continued his racing comeback by having his second victory over the course in a time of 17m04s.

l The Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team has now been selected for the forthcoming World Mountain Running Championships, to be held in Valle Carmonica, Italy, on September 2.

Included in the Senior Men’s squad, which is captained by Stockport’s Steve Vernon, is Morpeth Harrier Nick Swinburn.

l Morpeth Harriers recently presented their Benfield Motors Athlete of the Year awards at their clubhouse on Mitford Road.

The awards will continue for 2012/13, with sponsorship again being kindly provided by Benfield Motors.

Under 15 athlete Philip Winkler was the overall winner, with Under 17 athlete Jonnie Nisbet taking second place and Under 15 athlete Ryan Green taking the third place award.

Winkler’s achievement highlight was his North Eastern Cross Country victory at Cramlington in December 2012.

Nisbet won his place mostly for his win in the Junior Great North Run in September 2011. Green gained the judges verdict for his win in the Under 15 Boys 800m at the North Eastern Track and Field Championships at Gateshead in May 2012.

l With the 2012 Olympics drawing to a close, there was clear evidence of a possible early legacy on show at the new Morpeth track facility at KEVI on Saturday when 29 participants turned out for the first in the series of Try-It Events, organised by Morpeth Harriers and the Northumberland Athletics Network.

Events available were High Jump, Long Jump, and Hurdles, and experienced coaches from the club, along with Alnwick Harriers coach Sue Skirrow, were on hand to explain and instruct on the more technical aspects involved.

Further Try-It events are scheduled to be held on Saturday and Sunday, when they will cover sprints, endurance and hurdles, and shot, javelin, discus and hammer.

It is hoped to also carry out pole vault coaching, however at present that is only provisional as the club are still awaiting required equipment.

All events commence at 10am and are expected to be completed by 12.45pm.

For health and safety reasons participants must be at least eight years of age, with the exception of the throws and pole vault, where the minimum age is 11 years old.