Author: Bridget Cushen

The first day of any Masters Athletics Championships is a plunge in at the deep end for both competitors and certainly for the Officials, but here several athletes arrived in the blazing sunshine ( upto 29 degrees) to be told they would go straight through to an age group semi or final as there appears to be a fairly high drop-out rate and hence some gaps in an otherwise crowded programme.  `

In the main stadium in Jesolo Steve Linsell cleared 1.70m on his second attempt to take the M55 silver ahead of the host nation’s Mastrolorenzi, both credited with the same height in an excellent series won by the German Weber at 1.76m. Paul Masterton was 18th and it proved a day to forget for M65 Duncan Talbot. There was a 5th place for Eastbourne Rovers’, Grant Sterling in the M40 triple jump and 8th for M45 Stephen Lake SCVAC, as Keith Newton was in the midst of battling it out in the M50 group with the Greek, Skamantzouras, for the silver medal, both clearing 12.48m, Keith settled for 3rd as the 12.67m third jump by the Italian, Tico had assured him victory.

Retired north London nurse, Evaun Williams, winning the W80 shot was the first to get us on to the podium. We had six members competing in the W60 Weight throw being held in the third stadium Eraclea, Hazel Barker, Julie Wakelam, Clare Cameron, Renate Prells, Christine Elliott and Brenda Russell. Wendy Dunsford, taking a well deserved break from fully time domestic Caring, finished last in her final but was happy to be part of the action.

With 16 allowed to run in the 1500m final, the W35 were the only age group that needed heats just to eliminate three runners. Fiona De Mauny made sure she was going to get through by tracking the Spaniard,  Arrua Carrasco, who was determined to win in a sub five minute time. Rebecca Luxton, Bettany Thompson and Laura Street all got through to the final on 7th.  The heats of the men’s races were all in Jesolo.  

There appeared to be endless rounds of the 100m, the women’s events being held in the second stadium in Caorle and the men’s in Jesolo, semis and finals the next day. Team Manager Maurice Doogan was to spend two long days in the Caorle stadium where the multi events were being held.

British sprinters excel amongst some controversy

On Friday Day 2, 6 September, athletes woke up to a dark leaden sky and near gale force wind before torrential rain and localised thunder set in after midday. The 400mH heats, 100m semis held early escaped, but for the throwers and jumpers it was miserably and there were some injuries. Lynsey Whyks managed to grab a bronze in the W35 triple jump.

The sprinters had a torrid time with the strong headwind and their 100m finals scheduled last event, by which time the electronic equipment was getting saturated, resulting in recalls.  Run in age descending order Richard Pitcairn-Knowles was out of the medals this time, Stephen Peters had to work hard to hold off first John Browne but the German Rudolf Koning piped Browne in the final push to the tape for the silver medal. Four of the seven finalists were British with Wally Franklyn back to form and Simon Barrett making the cut.  

Eyebrows were raised when the top M60 USA sprinter Val Barnwell was included in a European Masters 8-lane final. How did he get there? EMA agreed some years ago to allow non Europeans to compete but it was on the understanding they would not be included in the final unless there was a free lane and only Europeans would be awarded medals. After the semis, a sprinter had to pull out; the next fastest European was not slotted into the final, he lodged an appeal. His appeal was rejected. We understand the reason given was that “he had not qualified for a final.” The free lane then being offered to Barnwell(!).  The stadium erupted as the knowledgeable spectators rose to give a rapturous applause to NMAC’s John Wright who showed the American a clean pair of heels over the finish line.

Interviewing Barnwell afterwards, he said that the US Masters got an invitation. He said he thinks “they” LOC or EMA extended the invitation to the US as they hoped to get enough to hold a non-European final. That did not happen. He also said it was a bit difficult for him being told he was not competing and then being told he can compete.  John Wright, delighted with his popular victory, was of the opinion that it is unfair and he should be in the final.    

The races carried on in quick succession as there was another great final with the M55 where Don Brown and Pat Logan cleared up gold and bronze medals in remarkably good times considering the atrocious conditions.  Kevin Craven, VAC, was hoping for a semi place but after a season’s best in his heat on the first day, it propelled him into the semis and a happy 5th in the M50 final. Ricardo Lemas got the nod over his Portuguese M45 pre-race favourite Selwyn Wever as Ciaran Harvey held on the 3rd. The M40 finalists had to stand behind their blocks for what seemed an inordinately long time in a downpour as the Starter and his Assistant dealt with technical problems. Michael Barough said he was chuffed to reach the final “to be honest I did not expect to”. Jonathan Browne was on paper the fastest M35 entry and so it proved, as the three fastest raced to form.

More reports from Athletics Weekly for Day 1

Race Results:

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