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UK Athletics

Matt Douglas and Julie Crane top popints table

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There was plenty of top class action in the UK Challenge on Saturday 1 July, with athletes in action for their club in the latest round of the British Athletics League and UK Women’s League.


In the BAL Premiership match at Birmingham, City of Manchester (Sale) Harriers won by 9 points from Belgrave who take over the lead from defending champions Woodford Green with Essex Ladies who were a distant third on the day.


The UK Challenge performance of the meeting came from Matt Douglas (Belgrave). The Commonwealth Games representative won in 50.54 seconds to equal his season's best. That earned 211 points, and gave him a 10-metre victory over Dale Garland (Birchfield), who won the previous Athlete of the Match award at Manchester.


Will Sharman (Belgrave), winner of the May Athlete of the Month award, continues to progress and his 13.85 seconds victory (201 points) over Allen Scott (Shaftesbury Barnet) in 14.07 seconds, was a great performance considering the strong 2.1 headwind.


Though he only earned 184 points, the 10.38 seconds victory in the 100m by reigning European Junior Champion Craig Pickering (Newham & Essex Beagles) showed a return to form for the promising teenager and was a clear season's best. Somto Eruchie (Birchfield) was impressive in the 200m, clocking 21.08 seconds (172 points)


Darren Campbell (City of Manchester), showed a slight improvement in form to win the B 200m (21.24) and a non scoring 100m, where a strong headwind (-2.6) slowed him to 10.76 seconds.


Satisfied with his performance in the 110m Hurdles at the SPAR European Cup, Andy Turner (City of Manchester) gained valuable points and showed good flat speed with third place in both the 100m and 200m A races, in 10.62 and 21.46 seconds. Chris Reynolds (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) won the 800m in 1:49.30 (154 points) with Tom Settle (City of Manchester) also inside 1:50 barrier.


In the field, the top scoring performance came from former Commonwealth Champion Larry Achike who leapt 16.32m (192) in the triple jump to make an excellent season's debut while other good scoring efforts came from Scott Simpson (Birchfield) in the Pole Vault with 5.20m (190 points) and Darren Ritchie (City of Manchester), who achieved a 7.66m long jump (176 points).


Final result: City of Manchester 351; Belgrave 342, Woodford Green 269, Newham & Essex Beagles 267, Birchfield 257.5, Enfield & Haringay 246.5, Shaftesbury 245, Thames Valley 190.


In the UK Women's League Division One match, also hosted by Birchfield, Shaftesbury Barnet won the match by just 3 and a half points, however Edinburgh Southern Harriers still lead overall with one fixture remaining.


The top performance in the UK Challenge came in a high class women's high jump from a non scoring competitor, Julie Crane (City of Manchester). Crane equalled her outdoor best for the year, achieving a 3cm improvement on the height she achieved in the European Cup a few days earlier with a fine 1.88m leap (210 points).


Top points in the match went to joint British record holder Susan Moncrieff (Trafford) in a season's best 1.85m on countback from Stephanie Pywell (City of Manchester), who was again over the world junior qualifying mark, though down on her 1.86 PB from Bedford.


Zoe Derham (Birchfield), who competed in the hammer and discus in the SPAR European Cup, also scored well with her 63.60m hammer win earning her 203 points.


UK number one in the shot, Joanne Duncan (Woodford Green with Essex Ladies) won the shot with 16.17m (193 points) and Kelly Sotherton (Birchfield) was in impressive form to win the 100 hurdles in 13.56 seconds (189 points). Commonwealth Heptathlon Champion Sotherton also ran in the winning 4x400 team and was third in the match high jump with a clearance of 1.80m.


Birchfield's American triple jumper Tiombe Hurd impressed with a 13.71m victory (196 points) and another good scorer was clubmate Helen Karagounis, who led off the 4 x 400m team in Malaga, who won the 400m in 52.86 (190 points).


Others who showed good form included Marilyn Okoro (Shaftesbury Barnet) who won the 800m in a 2:04.35 (176 points) and clubmate Emma Ania who completed a sprint double (11.74 / 23.85) and was part of the winning 4x100m quartet.


Match score: Shaftesbury Barnet 197.5, Birchfield 194, Edinburgh Southern 176, City of Manchester 155, Woodford Green with Essex Ladies 150, Trafford 143, Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow 138.5, Rugby & Nantwich 91


In the Men's National 1 match at Carlisle, Australian thrower Chris Gavligio (Trafford) gained the UK Challenge performance award for the second time in three matches and helped his club to an easy team win. Gavligio's 17.55 shot victory earned 188 points while his 53.37m victory scored 166 points. Another Trafford athlete, Michael Allen scored well in the javelin with a 72.35 throw to earn 176 points which was the same score that clubmate Andrew Steele scored with a 46.58 400 victory. Windsor Slough Eton & Hounslow's former Commonwealth champion Julian Golley achieved a jumps double with a 15.84m victory in his speciality earning 173 points and backed that up with a 7.17 long jump win.


In the Men’s National 2 match at Kingston upon Thames, there was a narrow win for Harrow, which took them into the overall lead.


Kent AC, who were runners-up on the day and moved into second in the standings, had the performance of the meeting with Martin Lloyd's personal best of 2.16m in the high jump, improving his 1998 mark and scoring 180 points.


British steeplechase international Jermaine Mays (Kent AC) won the 800m in 1:51.04 and then narrowly pipped rival and European Cup steeplechase representative Adam Bowden (Harrow) in a 3:48.45 to 3:48.63 victory. Jeffrey Lawal Balogan also gained a double for the Lewisham-based club with a 10.64 / 21.44 sprint double. In the latter he pipped junior star Alex Nelson (Stoke), who ran 21.55.


Leading junior hurdler Gianni Frankis (Southend) set a new lifetime best over the senior 110m hurdles with 14.30 which earned 167 points.


Gateshead increased their lead in their men's Division 3 match at Ashford by scoring a 27 point victory over Kingston & Polytechnic. Gary White (Rugby & Northampton) top scored with his 15.41m triple jump that earned 156 points.


Other high scorers were fairly closely matched - promising junior Ben Stramikowski (Gateshead) scored a 10.76 / 21.44 double, the longer event scoring 136 points, Rafer Joseph (Basingstoke & Mid Hants) achieved a 48.99 discus (135 points), Craig Sturrock (Gateshead) a 15.23 shot (130), Ian Burns (Gateshead) a 63.06m throw in the javelin (130).


The women's Division 2 match at Swansea saw a very easy win for City of Glasgow with Swansea and Cardiff completing the first three. The star performance was most definitely Jennifer Meadows (Wigan Phoenix) in the 800m. Though she just missed her recent PB from Gateshead, Meadows smashed the UK women's league record with a brilliant 2:00.74 which scored a whopping 212 points and she won the race by 10 seconds.


That wasn't her only good run of the day as she won the 400m B race in 53.25 seconds, which scored the second highest points total of the match (181 points) and was quicker than the A string 400m.


The UK Women's Division 3 match at Coventry was won by Belgrave who strengthened their overall lead. British record holder Janine Whitlock aided Belgrave's win with a 4.15m victory that earned 205 points for  easily the top points score of the Match. Fellow Belgrave Harrier Eva Massey was the next highest total with 173 for her 15.15m win in the shot.


The UK Women's Division 4 match at Enfield was won by Enfield and Haringey and that gives them a one point lead after three matches over Thames Valley Harriers. The top performance in points terms was non scorer Rachel Brenton (Radley) whose 12.31m triple jump earned 140 points.


The UK Challenge series provides British athletes just below that of international standard and aspiring athletes, with top-class competition throughout the summer and throughout the UK. Altogether there are 48 events throughout the season to score points in culminating in a final at Manchester on the 27 August.