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UK Athletics

SPAR Sprints Action at Gateshead and Bedford

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This weekend sees a series of great competitive opportunities through the SPAR Sprints Initiative for leading Under 17 athletes at both the Norwich Union British Grand Prix at Gateshead and Bedford International Games, both taking place on Sunday 11 June.


The UK’s leading Under 17 sprinters have been invited to rub shoulders with world stars of track and field at the first UK Athletics televised event of the season in Gateshead.


Derek Redmond, Senior Co-ordinator for Sprints and Hurdles explained:


“There is nothing better than competing in front of a big crowd to bring out the best in you, I certainly relished the big occasions as an athlete. The young athletes competing in the SPAR sprint series on Sunday will gain a fantastic experience, hopefully setting them up for a successful season. 


“These talented young sprinters not only have a great opportunity to record fast times, but to enjoy being part of a Norwich Union Grand Prix with some of the best athletes in the world.”


The line up for the Under 17 Women’s SPAR Sprints 100m includes; Shaunna Thompson (Sale Harriers) English Schools 200m Champion in 2005 and Rebekah Wilson, (Altrincham & District) who took Bronze at same Championships over 100m. Wilson and Robyn Rashford (Sale Harriers) are members of the North West SPAR Sprints squad led by Paula Dunn and Bob Gaisie.

In the Men’s SPAR Sprints 100m, the UK’s leading U17 100m runner, Olufunmi Sobodu (Worthing Harriers) is the hot favourite having clocked an impressive 10.73 seconds to wipe out his club’s 100m Men’s record at the South of England Championships on 27 May.


Chris Clarke (Marshall Milton Keynes AC) is looking for some speed work as he plans to focus on the 400m this summer and achieving the qualifying standard for the World Junior Championships. Chris won the last event in the 2006 SPAR Sprints Series at the Norwich Union Grand Prix in Birmingham on 18 February, where he recorded an impressive time of 21.54 seconds in the 200m, just fractions outside Tim Benjamin’s UK Under 17 200m indoor record of 21.51 seconds set in 1998.

Other athletes in the Men’s 100m line up include Yusuf Aliu (Middlesbrough AC – Mandale), James Alaka (Blackheath & Bromley AC).


At the Bedford International Games, the SPAR Sprints East Centre and Bedfordshire & Luton County Sports Partnership have worked together to produce an East Region Under 17 100m for Men and Women. The athletes have all qualified through finishing in the top three at their County Championships, in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.


SPAR Sprints Co-ordinator for the East Region, Greg Simmons said: “I hope this event can continue to be held at Bedford International Games in future years and be expanded to encourage more junior athletes to compete at their respective county championships.”


The heats of the SPAR Sprints Regional 100m at Bedford International Games get underway at 11.30am. At the Norwich Union British Grand Prix, the Under 17 SPAR Sprints races take place at 13.24 and 13.32pm.