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Baptiste bursts back towards glory times

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Former European Junior 100m Champion Leon Baptiste (Enfield and Haringey AC) was the biggest mover in the UK Challenge standings at the fourth and final British League Premiership match of the season at the Thames Valley Athletics Centre, Eton, on Saturday 5 August.

 

He didn’t move quite as fast in the 200m as the official results indicated (his time was given on at least two normally reliable websites as 20.35, which would have put him second in the UK rankings for this season, ahead of the Norwich Union GB trio about to race in the European Championships). But the 21-year-old’s victory in an official 20.95 seconds, within four-hundredths of his fastest yet, earned him 215 points and lifted him from 26th in the UK Challenge standings to equal fourth, giving him a great chance of earning a place in the Final at Manchester on 27 August.

 

“He’s almost back to where he was a couple of years ago,” said his coach, Michael Afilaka, who is now on his way to Gothenburg to look after two more of his charges, Rikki Fifton and Gemma Bennett, who are in the European Championships. “It was a bit of a chaotic day, by all accounts, at Eton. The clock stopped at 20.80. When Leon heard the time had been rounded up to 20.95, it was like his balloon had been pricked. I don’t know what to say now the time’s been published as 20.35 – except, ‘No way!’

 

Earlier, Baptiste had finished second in the 100m in 10.45 seconds, five-hundredths behind Mark Findlay (Newham and Essex Beagles), who thus registered his third-fastest Challenge time of the summer to earn 181 points and take his ‘Fantastic Four’ race total to 743. Baptiste has 654 and Challenge 100m defending Champion Ryan Moseley (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) is on 750 after being given third place after also clocking 10.45.

 

Adam Charlton (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) virtually booked a 400m final place with a victory in 46.71, his fastest of the season and the fourth time he has dipped under 47.20 in this Challenge series.

 

Tom Settle (City of Manchester) clocked his third-quickest time of the series, 1:50.32, in winning the 800m. His faster runs have both been at BMC Nike Grands Prix incorporating the UKA Endurance Initiative.

 

Stuart Stokes (City of Manchester) moved close to the 3000m steeplechase top eight with victory in 8:45.37 over the ageless Olympians Justin Chaston (Belgrave), who finished second in 8:50.80. Stokes has 385 from two Challenge races and needs only another 8 points to climb into the leading eight.

 

The 110m hurdles, arguably the most competitive Men’s track event in the entire Challenge series, went to form without damaging the status of William Sharman (Belgrave Harriers) at the top of the standings. While he flew out to Gothenburg with his Norwich Union GB team mates, the Premiership race was dominated by the athletes placed second and third in the Series: Duncan Mallins (Newham and Essex Beagles) won in 14.17, which is only his sixth-quickest of the Series; Dominic Girdler (Belgrave) was second in 14.27, which is also only his sixth-quickest of the Series.

 

Reigning Challenge 400m hurdles Champion Matt Douglas (Belgrave) retained his current lead at the top of the standings with a victory in 50.88.

 

Tom Parsons (Birchfield) took time out from his defence of the Challenge high jump title to win the B triple jump for his club with 14.33m (good enough for 112 points). In his specialist event, he won the high jump with 2.20m, becoming the first athlete in any event to accumulate 1,000 points this summer.

 

In the pole vault, Scott Simpson (Birchfield) extended his lead over defending Challenge Champion Christian North (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies). Simpson won at 5.25m, equaling his second-best performance of the season. North was second with 5.10m, with 5cm of his season’s best.

 

Tosin Oke (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) went to the top of the triple jump standings with his third-best leap of the summer’s Series, 15.54m. It earned him an emphatic victory over Phil Ferdinand (Birchfield), whose Series best of 15.29m could provide him with a launchpad to the Challenge Final.

 

Emeka Udechuku (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) underlined his leadership in both the Challenge shot and discus competitions with victories, putting 18.46m for his best Challenge return so far this summer of 210 points, and throwing 57.17m, moderate by his standards.

 

In his wake, Sam Westlake-Cann (Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers) achieved a shot best of 17.60m to beat defending Challenge Champion Chris Gearing (Belgrave), whose best of the day was 16.85m.

 

In the discus, Marcus Gouldbourne (City of Manchester) followed up his Challenge best of 54.52m at the ThrowsFest with his second-best in the Series, 54.47m, to finish second ahead of Abdul Buhari (Newham and Essex Beagles), whose 54.12m will not count as one of his ‘Fantastic Four’ events come the Final reckoning.

 

The top trio in the hammer Challenge dominated. Defending Champion Andy Frost (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) won with 69.92m, his fourth-best of the summer. Simon Bown (Newham and Essex Beagles) was second with 66.02m, his third-best. Mike Floyd (City of Manchester) was third with 65.30m, his fourth-best.

 

The javelin competition hotted-up in the absence of Challenge leader Michael Allen (City of Manchester). David Parker (Shaftesbury) won with 67.99m, his fourth-best of the Series, from Alex van der Merwe (Birchfield), who reached a Series best of 67.14m.

 

The Premiership match ended: 1 Belgrave Harriers 358; 2 Newham and Essex Beagles 309; 3 Birchfield Harriers 292; 4 City of Manchester 281; 5 Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 267; 6 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 262; 7 Enfield and Haringey AC 238; 8 Thames Valley Harriers 170.

 

Final positions: 1 Belgrave Harriers 30; 2 Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 25; 3 City of Manchester 21; 4 Newham and Essex Beagles 18; 5 Birchfield Harriers 16; 6 Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers 15 (1055); 7 Enfield and Haringey AC 15 (1033.5); 8 Thames Valley Harriers 4.

BAL National 1 at Sheffield: 1 Trafford AC 369; 2 City of Sheffield AC 368; 3 Blackheath and Bromley AC 352; 4 Cardiff AAC 274; 5 Windsor, Slough Eton and Hounslow 272; 6 Border Harriers 171; 7 City of Edinburgh AC 170; 8 Bedford & County AC 155.

Final positions: 1 Trafford AC 31; 2 City of Sheffield AC 29; 3 Border Harriers 21; 4 Windsor, Slough Eton and Hounslow 19; 5 Cardiff AAC 15; 6 Blackheath and Bromley AC 13; 7 Bedford and County AC 9; 8 City of Edinburgh AC 7.

 

BAL National 2 at Crawley: 1 Harrow 346; 2 Kent AC 312; 3 equal City of Liverpool and Swansea Harriers AC 273; 5 Herne Hill Harriers 272; 6 City of Stoke AC 268; 7 Southend AC 232; 8 Crawley AC 222’

 

Final positions: 1 Harrow 29; 2 Kent AC 26.5; 3 City of Liverpool 24.5; 4 Southend AC 17; 5 Swansea Harriers AC 17; 6 Herne Hill Harriers 13; 7 City of Stoke AC 9; 8 Crawley AC 8.

 

BAL National 3 at Gateshead: 1 Derby 360; 2 Basingstoke and Mid Hants 336; 3 Gateshead Harriers 326; 4 Notts AC 285; 5 Kingston and Polytechnic 276; 6 Team Southampton 234.5; 7 Medway and Maidstone 203; 8 Rugby and Northampton 107.5.

 

Final positions: 1 Gateshead 29; 2 Derby 27; 3 Basingstoke and Mid Hants 24; 4 Kingston and Polytechnic 22; 5 Notts AC 18; 6 Medway and Maidstone 9; 7 Team Southampton 8; 8 Rugby and Northampton 8.