British Masters in 3rd spot on the medal table – 15th September

Author: Bridget Cushen

With a steady 22-26° heat our athletes are enjoying the warm Italian sun, particularly the throwers, despite some organisational problems.

The third stadium in Eraclea is located between two busy road junctions and only offers limited facilities despite having a large basketball hall and some hockey pitches. It was here that the 5000m were scheduled from 08.00-20.00 on 13th. The small Refreshment structure packed up early leaving the older runners reliant on a vending machine only.  The Organisers were alerted but could only offer an apology as the Officials were also affected and there were few volunteers. It is simply not good enough for a European Championships.   Fortunately, the track is much closer to Jesolo than Caorle.  The women raced early morning as the temperature rose steadily, followed by the M35 and upwards.  How M75 winner, Victor Shirley, Phil Brennan 4th and Barrie Roberts 11th in the combined M75+ starting at 20.00 coped post their race would have been worrying. Mercifully the BMAF is better managed than some Affiliates and for Team Manager, Archie Jenkins, it was a long tiring day, but he was there to the very end, he then peddled back to his hotel on his bicycle.  I know you will all join in is saying a huge “Thank You” to him and the other Team Managers Lynne Marr, Ian Richards, Maurice Doogan, Arthur Kimber, Mel James and the injured Earl Taylor, NIMAA, who has volunteered to help, and have been working very hard here.

The Weight Throws, so popular in the European, were taking place in Caorle with several other Field Events.  Roald Bradstock won the M55 World title in Malaga last year and he still holds the M50 World record  76.16m from 2012  (700g), won here with a throw of 66.82m by the Finn Tommi  HuotilainenChristopher Duncan was 15th.  Caroline Garratt was just out of the medals in the W55 event, other British placings in an event dominated by the Finns were : Julie Wakeham 9th and Hazel Barker 11th W60,  In the M60 throw, 14th and 15th positions went to  Nick Barton and Michael Hauser, Christopher Pruski finished 21st .  

All 800m were held in the main stadium that afternoon.  British Masters were to feature prominently and the head to head clash between Virginia Mitchell and Clare Elms in the W55 800m final was eagerly anticipated. Virginia beat Clare in the 800m Indoor in Torun in March but Clare has been setting a few record times this season. There were numerous PBs and seasons bests. 

Andrew Ridley had a decisive M55 win and M65 Stewart Thorp, 5th, managed to keep out of trouble as the Italian runner Zito took a fall in the home straight. M60 Peter Mountain, 8th behind winner Paul Fletcher and silver medallist Keith McGhie, entered four races getting two PBs and two SBs.  Current World M50 title holder, Mark Symes, was favourite to add the European title to his growing collection here. In a strong tactical field the race unfolded dramatically and was only decided on the line.  VAC’s Dominic Bokor-Ingram has had a difficult injury plagued year after his successes in Malaga. Slightly disappointed with his performance in the 200/400m earlier in the Championships, his speed training prove vital here as he snatched an emotional 800m 2.5.01 victory here as Mark never relented, being awarded the silver in a close 2.05.18sec. David Matthew raced to 9th.  A fantastic race as some of the finalists are not far short of their 55th birthday. We had no M45/40 finalist, the final medal, another silver medal, going to new member, Herne Hill H. Mike Cummings, who had earlier got 2nd in the 1500m.

The men were not getting all the limelight however as the women got a rare opportunity here to race in front of a packed stand.  Angela Copson led the field home in the W70 race as Ros Tabor got on the podium again for a bronze medal; Penny Forse was just behind her and Carolyn Gale 6th.  Also featuring prominently in their finals were W65 Sue James 9th, Louise Jefferies 3rd W60 and 12th place for Carol Webb. On to the big race, Virginia strode confidently into the lead, taking the field through the first 400m in 72sec as Clare followed. Clare made her bid with 200m to go but Virginia responded instantly, looking strong she drew away but Clare, who was our only age group winner in the 5000m earlier in the morning, never gave up, finishing in 2.28.10sec. Christine Anthony held 3rd spot throughout, making it a British 1,2,3. Virginia’s winning time of 2.26.29sec is truly remarkably as you still see many senior races won in that time.  The W50 race followed where Karen Rushton got 6th, Becky Selvey and Helen Davies reached the W45 final. Ireland has a particularly strong women’s team here, they took 1st and 2nd in the W45 final as Zoe Doyle got shut out by .08sec. A circling low flying helicopter disrupted the concentration of the W35 as they waited for the gun. Fiona De Mauny made a brave attempt to hold off the tall Pole, Aneta Lemiesz, who recorded 2.09.89se and Fiona came home with a silver in 2.12.78sec.  Rebecca Mills came in 11th.

On 14th it was an early morning start again for the walkers. Olympian Ian Richards won his second road walk, the M70 20km here in 1hr.55.37sec, almost a five minute winning margin. Following him in was Peter Boszko for his second silver, Roger Michel 8th and David Kates 10th.  Just outside the W40 medals was Penny Cunnings, Cath Duhig struck W60 gold.

The main stadium was abuzz in the afternoon with the men and women’s 4 x 100m relays, younger men’s long jump and women’s 55-plus pole vault competitions, where Sue Yeoman went on to take yet another European pole vault title.

Kicking off in good weather conditions with the M35/M40 long jump; the spectators witnessed excellent competitions. A second round leap of 6.55m gave Neil Barton the M35 silver.  It was a PB and to cap a great day for him, competing in the M40 on the parallel runway was his hero, Jamaican Olympian silver medallist James Beckford. “I got a Selfie with him” smiled the SCVAC member.   Beckford now lives in Germany and the invitation to non European countries by the LOC was passed on to him by Jamaican Athletics. Asked why he is not sitting on his laurels like so many Olympians, he responded briskly “I think the Masters are great. I just love the atmosphere and the friendliness, I’ve have really enjoyed it here.”  It was not such a good day unfortunately for EMAC’s M40 Gavin Stephens, after a 6.10m opener he crumbled into the pit on his second jump and had to be helped back to his feet by the Medics.  Finishing 13th in the 25-strong M50 was SCVAC’s Keith Newton and 22nd Ian Hawtin.   

Team Managers Maurice Doogan and Arthur Kimber fielded teams in most relay age groups and as you will see from the results and running order, the medals rolled in and British Masters records were rewritten during some great races. A record that is unlikely to be ratified however, is that set by Jonty Mitchell. The keen Photographer managed to take a shot of the M45 first change over, grab his belongings and sprint the full diagonal length of the infield, as only the offspring of such a pedigree could, in time to take a shot of the final take over!!

The Championships conclude tomorrow 15th with the Thrown Pentathlon, 4 x 400m relays and the 10km road and half marathon, that is likely to feature the Olympic marathon medallist Rosa Mota who competed here for Portugal in their cross-country W60 team and taking the W60 individual title.   The final day’s competition was moved to Carole to avoid the Jesolo annual Air Show. The noise and fumes from the vertical jets as they did their rehearsal on Saturday evening disrupted many of the relay starts.

All results can be found by going into www.european-masters-athletics.org and following the link.