Herne Hill Harriers' flagship men's team will 'keep fighting' in our remaining two British Athletics League fixtures despite propping up the premiership of track and field. The club finished in eighth position at the second of four summer meetings on Saturday and trail City of Sheffield in seventh by 42 points. With Bon Jovi playing next door to the Sportcity track in the Etihad Stadium it is fair to say that HHH are half way there and living on a prayer!.
Harriers' overall result in Manchester, however, masks the performances of several outstanding individuals who proved they can compete against the cream of British athletics. In the sprint events, Dele Onifade won the B-string 100m in 10.86 against a 2.8 wind and Nicholas Atwell ran a 48.03 personal best to finish second in the 400m B race. Dwayne Dowding also ran well to finish third in the 200m B race, clocking 21.78, while Blade Ashby snatched fourth place in the A-string 100m hurdles with his best time yet over the senior height hurdles of 14.35.
On his wife's birthday, Mike Cummings was another runner to post a personal best, clocking 1:56.11 as he finished seventh in the B 800m, before then running 4:00.09 for fifth in the B 1500m. Michael Dyer also doubled up in the 800m and 1500m, finishing fourth and sixth respectively in the A races, clocking 1:54.35 and 3.57.32. Other highlights included Jorge Raso Gea's 8:31.18 for fourth place in the 3000m A race, while James McMullan clocked 8:31.18 to finish fourth in the B string. There were further reasons to be cheerful after Harriers 4x400m team of Nicholas Atwell, Blade Ashby, Michael Dyer and Peter Phillips finished fourth.
Team manager Geoff Jerwood said Harriers were hamstrung by a late withdrawals, especially in the field events, losing a shot putter plus our two best long jumpers and triple jumpers and a steeplechaser. 'After two matches of four, we would appear to be all but relegated', Jerwood conceded, 'but we will keep fighting, HHH never give up, it is not in our DNA.'.
As Herne Hill' senior athletes were flying the red and black flag in the north-west, their younger counterparts were dominating the London Schools' track and field championships at Battersea. Harriers' medal haul extended to 19 gold, seven silver and five bronze, with Saskia Millard the standout performer as she posted a championship best time of 4:43.1 in the junior girl's 1500m.
Other gold medallists included Marvin Popoola (U20 100m and 200m), Ed Olsen, who clocked 1:58.9 in the U17 800m, and Feysel Nadew, another 800m runner, who notched a time of 2:04.2 in the U15 event. Millard, Popoola, Olsen and Nadew were subsequently among a group of 54 athletes selected to represent London, with other club members chosen to represent the capital including Catriona McSorley (75m hurdles), Michella Obijiaku (shot), Freya Cooper (pole vault), Paul Burgess (1500m), Fawaaz Okunola (100m), Zanson Plummer (100m), Frederick Afrifa (200m), Adam Ssali (100m hurdles), Cathan Marcell (100m), Chris Annous (300m), Adeyinka Adeniran (80m hurdles) and Denisha Marshall-Brown (shot).
Elsewhere our newly promoted senior women were sixth out of eight teams in our first ever match in the UK Women’s League Division 1 at a windy Southampton on Sunday despite suffering an even longer list of absentees that their male counterparts had endured further north the day before.
Rebecca Zelic was our only event winner as she stormed to victory in the B-string 400m hurdles event, setting what is believed may be a UK best for a deaf athlete in her age group of 65.60. In the A 400m hurdles race before Rebecca's great win, Aisha Naibe-Wey placed a good third to kick off our afternoon on the track. Hannah Edwards was third in the A-string 800m in 2.15.77, followed up with a season's best 400m time of 60.43 and then epitomised the spirit among our depleted squad as she ran the 1500m for points that proved crucial to our overall team position as our women will strive to stay out of the bottom two drop zone in our remaining two matches in this league.