Written by Bridget Cushen on 4 Aug 2015

Through the verdant woods of Parilly Park in Lyon over 1,000 runners from 98 countries vied for individual and team medals in the undulating 8km cross-country races on the first Day of the World Masters Athletics biennial Track & Field Championships.  Despite a fall on the second of the four laps, Pam Jones from Ilford, a veteran of these Championships, recovered quickly to finish runner-up to the Portuguese Flores and lead the British Women’s 75 Age Category team to gold. Norfolk sheep farmer, Anne Martin, snatched the individual bronze and Betty Stacey completed the team scoring. In the W70 group won by Lavinia Petrie from Australia, Pauline Rich finished 5th and Lesley Bowcott 7th.  The W65-69 race was a 1-2 British victory as Angela Copson successfully defended her World titled just ahead of Roz Tabor, Mexico won the team title. In the younger W55-59 Category, Claire Donald from the VAC had a magnificent run in her first ever World Masters Championships as she closed in on the race leader and Dutch champion, Carla Ophorst-Marrewijk, who held on to win by 7sec

The 35-54 combined ages race followed on as the humidity rose and the early pace matched the heat. The host nation had their first Championships medal as loud applause greeted 49-year old Zohra Graziani as she crossed the line, arms aloft, after a gritty battle with former European champion Loubele of Belgium. The bronze medal went to the familiar British & Irish International cross-country competitor, Carmel Crowley from Ireland.  Bringing up the rear of the field was Khanal Sabitri from Nepal, making their first appearance at these Championships. Other British placings were Katherine Wellem 6th, Ruth Jones 7th in the W35 race won by De Toro of Spain. France also got 1st and 2nd in the W40 Group. Sally Gibbs took the W50 title for New Zealand, Niamh O’Sullivan Ireland was just out of the medals in 4th, Jane Pidgeon work her way through to 7th in 33.50sec and Sharon Ramage came in 20th in 36.21sec. Our biggest entry was in the W55 race where Marilyn Blair led them home in 7th, just ahead of Susie Tawney 8th, 15 Kathryn Morton, 20 Diane Farmer, 21 Caroline Lawless and Wendy Doxey 34th. Carmel Parnell got Ireland on the medal table again racing to victory in the W60 race in 32.10. The British team packed in well with Mary Machin 6th in 35.05, Jane Georghiou 10th 36.36sec and Anna Garnier 11th in 36.40sec.

Under an overcast sky, one of the most emphatic victories came in the M40-44 age group race when the Spaniard, Hose Luis Blanco Quevedo, led from gun to tape to race away from the huge field to win in 25.59sec. The former WMA World steeplechase record-holder reveled in the humid conditions as his younger challengers suffered and it was left to the M45 Italian, V. Brignne to try to close the gap; he crossed the line in 25.02 just ahead of Troncoso, Argentina, 25.05 and the first M35 in the combined race, Moissonnier of France. All the British competitors said it was a hard race. M40 Robert White got 19th in 27.31sec, David Smith was 14th in 28.09. In the M45 race Andrew Ronald finished 31st in 30.22sec, and Chris Donald 42nd 36.22sec.  Ben Reynolds who won the BMAF M50 title this year, did not appear, Irishman Mike Traynor had a good win in 25.44 from Dahl of Sweden and Bruce Graham of Australia. Steven Doxey came in 21st, John Comrie 30th and Alan Roberts 42nd.  Robert Atkinson just missed out on a medal in the M55 group, finishing 4th in 27.46 in a race won by Ihar Dolbik of Belarus in 26.48sec. Colin Feecham 15th, David Norman 17th, Robert Fox 30.19, Colin Oxlade 28th and Richard Wilkinson 30th completed the British team. Spain had another individual victory when M60 Aragon Munoz crossed the line in 28.18. Stewart Thorp got 25th, Andrew Murray 40th, David Proffitt 44th, John Denholm 45th, Rob Sargent, 50, 54th Martin Lippitt and Team Manager Kevin Dillon 57th.  Dutchman Stolwijk raced to the M65 World title in 29.53. Alex Sutherland led the British charge home in 8th, 33.02sec, Mike Mann 16th, Peter Hamilton 19th Steve Herington in 20th was just ahead of the former prolific Belgian World marathon champion Omer van Noten. Ian Snow was 40th and Alan Davidson 41st.  M70 gold went to the Swiss Andergg, 30.52sec, Geoff Newton led the compact British team in 12th, John Horton 16th and Barrie Roberts 28th. John Taylor, 14th and Les Green 21st were our only representatives in the M75 race, won by the German, Trumper in 35.03.

Four stadiums were operating simultaneously to cope with the huge entry in all Age Categories in the multi events. 50 men aged 35-39 entered the decathlon; 25 women in the W45 heptathlon for instance. Who was working harder – Officials or the Tech Guys trying to keep pace with individual and team scoring in the cross-country and point scoring in the multi events! Inevitably there were overload problems.  Darren Dobs, Lasne of France and Hoffer of Sweden all cleared 6.32m in the M35 long jump to equal 785pts. Takehara Kazuya of Japan ran his 400m in 52.48 for the final first day event boosting his score.

The finals of the Weight Throw were also taking place. Lynette Mckeown finished 5th in the W35 group (12.93), Jane Thrush 15th in the W45, Janet Smith also 5th in the W50 event (14.80) won by Gonny Mik, Netherlands (16.27), Kim Weir got 19th (7.94). Guy Dirkin finished 5th (16.21), behind the American thrower, Goldhammer, (18.97) and Terence Lally (13.49) was 14th Norwegian, Busterud (19.84). BMAF M80 Champion, Warwick Dixon, was also in 5th (38.68). The remarkable Hugh Gallagher from Ireland, now aged 91, had quite a battle to strike gold (17.08) to win from Assimontti from Uruguay (16.87).

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