FOLLOWING last Friday’s Aviva Grand Prix Meeting appearance at Crystal Palace, Morpeth Harrier Laura Weightman has suddenly emerged as the favourite to be the best-placed GB athlete for the Women’s 1500m at the forthcoming Olympic Games in London, writes George Patterson.
Her performance on Friday saw her finish fourth in 4m08.19s, however she finished in front of USA champion Morgan Uceny and well ahead of Kenyan champion Nancy Jebet Langat, and fellow Brits and former world silver medallists Lisa Dobriskey and the returning Hannah England, who placed seventh and 11th respectively.
This was Weightman’s last outing before London and it wasn’t without incident.
After stumbling in the penultimate lap, she managed to extricate herself from a tightly-placed group and as the pace strengthened at the bell, she fortunately managed to find some space just outside the chasing three.
As world champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Brunei won in 4m06.78s, the UK Champion managed to hang on for fourth place by producing a mature performance in the circumstances and will take this experience as part of her learning procedure as she heads for what hopefully will prove to be her finest hour in a few weeks’ time.
Another Morpeth Harriers athlete in fine form as he prepares for the London Olympics is Mongolian marathon champion Serod Batochir.
On Sunday, July 8, on his first outing back in Britain, he easily won the Milton Keynes Half-Marathon in an excellent 64m42s, which in turn gave him a 62-second cushion over his closest rival.
Batochir will continue his Olympic Marathon preparations at his country’s Surrey base.
l While large areas of the country have been struggling to cope with flash floods and thunderstorms, Morpeth Harrier Ross Floyd has been basking in the personal glory of his two very first individual victories on the roads.
Having been with the club since he was an early teenager, and has always been a loyal and key player to various successes, it is tremendous to see him now realise his very own piece of personal glory.
On Sunday, July 1, he travelled to Rotherham in South Yorkshire, where he won the Brinsworth 10k Road Race with plenty to spare in a time of 33m20s, heading a field of 197 runners.
However on Tuesday, July 10, life turned even sweeter for Ross when he led a field of 273 home in the inaugural Tyne Bridge Harriers five-mile road race on home soil in Newcastle.
He won in a time of 25m55s, a brand new personal best for the distance, which gave him a six second cushion over his closest rival Steve Cairns of the host club. James Buis of Heaton Harriers was third in 26m32s.
Other Morpeth Harriers well-placed were Under 20 athlete Sam Hancox and Over 50 Veteran Man Gordon Dixon, who were 23rd and 24th in respective times of 29m36s and 29m40s. Dixon was also first home in his category.
Further Morpeth Harriers results were as follows: Rob Hancox (45th and sixth O/45) 31m15s, Marie Drozdowicz (115th and first O/50 Lady) 35m23s and Archie Jenkins (151st and fourth O/60 Man) 37m13s.
l There were no fewer than 10 personal bests achieved by Morpeth Harriers athletes at the fourth Start Fitness sponsored North Eastern Athletics meeting, held at a rain-swept Gateshead International Stadium on Wednesday, July 11.
The club also had three event winners on a night not to be relished for its conditions.
Philip Winkler won the Under 17 Men’s 800m in a new personal best time of 2m02.51s. Jack Hepple also set new figures of 11.3s when winning the Senior Men’s 100m. He followed this up with an excellent 23.0s for second place in the 200m, which was agonisingly just outside of his personal best.
Kieran Hedley won the Under 13 Boys’ 800m in 2m28.92s.
There were two second places, and two brand new personal bests, for Mitchell Green in the Under 13 Boys’ 200m (29.46s) and Long Jump (3.90m).
Jared Lewis finished second in the Under 15 Boys’ 800m in 2m13.82s.
Fellow Morpeth Harriers Jacob Hopkins and Samuel Williams placed fifth and 11th with respective clocking of 2m20.08s, and 2m45.84s.
There were also two new personal bests achieved by Under 15 Boy athlete Alex Nesbitt. He finished second in the long jump with a best of 4.88m and he followed this up by finishing third in the 200m with 25.38s.
In the 200m, there were also personal bests achieved by Ryan Green and Euan Jones, who finished sixth and tenth fastest with respective clockings of 25.92s, and 27.44s. Green also enjoyed another personal best in the triple jump with 11.98m.
There was a personal best for Elliot Kelly in the seeded 3000m, where he finished as third Under 17 Man in 9m36.94s.
Other Morpeth Harriers in the seeded 3000m were James Taylor, who finished fifth Senior Man in 9m22.10s, and Gary Jones, who was sixth in 10m06.17s.
In the seeded Under 17 Men’s 200m, Morpeth Harrier Henrik Paulsen clocked 26.17s for third place.
Alison Brown finished as fourth Under 17 Woman in the 800m in 2m34.70, and she was followed home in fifth place by her Morpeth Harriers clubmate Alice Kelly, who clocked 2m51.42s.
Finally, in the Under 13 Girls’ 200m, Ailsa Jones finished eighth in 32.32s.
l Alex Nesbit and Kieran Hedley were declared the Morpeth Harriers Benfield Motors Athletes of the Month for April and May 2012, and they bring to a conclusion to the awards for the years 2011 and 2012.
Under 15 Boy sprinter Nesbit received his award for his fine performances at the North Eastern Athletics League at the end of April at Jarrow, where he won the 100m in 12.3s and the Long Jump with a best effort of 4.74m – both at the time were new lifetime personal bests.
Under 13 Boy Hedley gained the judges verdict with his two excellent performances at the North Eastern Counties Track and Field Championships, where he won Gold in the 800m in 2m28.97s and Bronze in the 1500m in 4m57.72s.
In addition to this, within the space of three weeks in May, his 800m time had improved from 2m33.4s to 2m26.3s.
Both of these athletes will now join nine of their club colleagues in the pool for the judges’ decision for the more lucrative Morpeth Harriers Benfield Athlete of the Year award, which will be decided upon shortly.
l Pre-race entry for the annual Morpeth 10k Road Race to be held on Tuesday, July 31 closes this Monday.
Until then, PDF entry forms will continue to be downloadable from the Morpeth Harriers website – www.morpethharriers.freeservers.com
A preview of the event will appear in next week’s Herald.