Lido Di Jesolo: European Titles Galore – 6th & 7th September

Author: Bridget Cushen

It’s a quarter to midnight as the Gent’s line up for your 1500m race please!

No, it is not a joke; this is exactly what 17 weary, wet, wind-battered men had to do to complete their decathlon, an exhausting event under any conditions, but these are no ordinary men; they are strong, unbelievably fit for their 60-plus years and they are here to prove who is the best all-round Masters athlete in Europe. From midday they had to cope with torrential rain, thunder and gale force wind. This last gruelling race may be the deciding factor. It is won in 5.35.65sec by the host nation’s Stefano Venier from the Belgian Andres De Geest (5.42.23) and Eastbourne’s Brian Slaughter (5.53.28). We salute you all.

Thank you Officials, Stadium Staff, Bus Drivers and Team Managers”  

The women’s 100m finals were also held on 6 September in the same stadium in Caorle, where they did not escape the torrential rain, thunder and strong headwind, but undaunted they carried on. The W40 had a +2.2 wind. Michelle Watson was our only finalist in the W35 whilst in the W40 race only the Polish sprinter Gasowsk prevented a British clean sweep as Susie McLaughlin 2nd, Joanne Frost 3rd,    4th place went to Karen Burles and Naana Adusei 6th – four British women in a European final. Juliet Sidney got 5th W50, Honoria Font Freide and Melanie Garland were more fortunate in their W55 final when the wind had dropped to +0.9 and it was another medal, silver, for the ever consistent W60 Joan Trimble.

I simply cannot think of any sprinter in female Masters athletics who can equal Caroline Powell’s remarkable series. I can never recall her returning home without a handful of individual medals. Merlene Ottey may be her parallel in the IAAF records.  Here she became European W65 champion with a decisive 15.09sec from Joylyn Saunders-Mullins 13.30, fortunately the wind reading was -0.4.  Carolyn Gale finished 6th W70, Iris Holder 3rd and Mary Axtell were W75 finalists and our indomitable Dorothy Fraser and Jeanne Coker lining up for the W80 race where Dorothy was rewarded with a bronze medal.   

He is an Olympian, current World and European record holder and Vice Chairman of BMAF and he still managed to race walk to another emphatic European 5km track walk. He is of course Ian Richard whom is one of quite a few of our small walking team who got on the podium in the third stadium in Eraclea.

In the same stadium on 7th, the women’s 1500m finals were held in the afternoon and weight throws in the morning. It is a nice stadium in a small Sport complex with an indoor basketball hall and hockey fields to warm up in, but isolated. The spectators deciding instead to flock to the main stadium in Jesolo where the men’s 1500m and 400mH were taking place as well as some thrilling high jump competition where the M35 title was won late evening in a lower height than the M40 title.  The facilities had dried out after the deluge the previous afternoon, with sunshine and a pleasant 20/22°

We had mixed fortunes but still walked away with a barrow load of medals. After a 2-hour dual Adam Young MMAC, took 2nd in the M50 high jump clearing 1.79m behind the Latvian Lasmanis 1.82m. There was a 9th placing for M45 Steven Ingram and 6th for M35 Andrew Reeves.  

Nisha  Desai raced to a W35 400mH European title in 61.62sec, Claire Brennan coming in 5th.  After an easy win in his heat the previous morning in 56.30sec, Andrew Clements, SCVAC, must have fancied his chances in the final.  In lane 4 he got away smart, had overhauled all his opponents by the 200m mark except the Pole in lane 8, leading off the bend he looked safe but began to tread water 15m out and the tall powerfully built Pole found an extra gear taking him past Andrew a metre out and the title in 54.22sec.Andrew clocked 54.39sec.  In this man killer event, age quickly manifests but remarkably Jakub Adamczyk moves into the M40 group in three weeks time. Dave Awde also got through and looked set for the bronze half way down the straight, he too faded getting nudged out by the Italian 55.41sec to 55.55sec. Neil Tunstall SWVAC finished 2nd  M55, M50 Peter Benedickter collected a bronze medal as did M40 Darren Towart.  One of the most decisive wins went to M45 current World record holder Edward Betts (SCVAC ) as he stormed to a clear 57.37 lead over the Slovenian Kociancic 59.91 before catching a plane home to his wife and 2-year old daughter.  “I had to make up for what happened to me in Malaga last year,” he added.

Jane Horder also took gold and kept her W60 300mH World record intact. Julie Rodgers (MMAC) became W55 300mH champion, Lisa Thomas VAC got her first ever international medal, a W50 silver, and Jean Fail won the W70 200m H gold   Barry Ferguson at 75+ is still clearing hurdles, he got the bronze here.    

Some excellent 1500m races followed, the men’s in Jesolo and the women’s in Eraclea where Zoe Doyle raced to W40 victory and it is good to see Lucy Elliott back and winning a W50 bronze here. Not surprisingly there were several PB and season’s best in such international fields.  The much anticipated head-to-head clash in the W55 race between Clare Elms and Anne Gilshinin of Ireland, both of whom have been trading the world record recently, did not materialise as the Irish woman was not here and Clare strode to a solid win.   Roz Tabor won another major W70 title, Penny Forse finished 3rd.  And there was a bronze medal also for Lincs. W75 Betty Stacy.

Back in the main stadium the crowd roared on all finalists. M35 Mike Cummings followed the Dutch leader throughout and held off a late charge from the Spaniard to win his first international medal in 3.58.05sec. A well judged pace ensured Matthew Barnes the M40 title in 4.12.95sec but not without a few anxious moments for the former triathlete back to athletics man. He led at the bell, the Italian Nadalutti made his bid for glory with 150m to go only for the MMAC member to pass him 40m out and draw away. World M50 champion, Mark Symes, added to his growing international tally with a clear victory, David Cowlishaw following him in for 3rdplace. Guy Bracken took his M55 field on, leading from the start as the Frenchman, Lefey, held on tenaciously before the NEMAC man shook him off with 100m to go to win in 4.23.04sec.  There was another gold from Paul Fletcher in the M60 race.  Victor Shirley had a great W75 win and Richard Pitcairn-Knowles got his first medal of the Championships, the M85 bronze.

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