Back at the track – at last !

Andrew Pozzi wears his silver medal with pride.
He was this close !

Return to the track

Good news!

I’ve spoken to Stratford School and I’m pleased to say we will be returning to the track on Tuesday 30th March and then training will continue thereafter on our normal days.

The Monday training sessions will resume on 12th April as the Easter Bank Holiday is on the 5th.

More details will be sent out shortly after some details are resolved with the school but one thing is clear that the protocols that we followed pre lockdown will again be implemented for all training sessions i.e. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. This includes access and egress to the track, use of sanitiser, social distancing etc.

Paul Bearman

First of all this week is the news we have all been waiting for – the return to the track.

Then it’s a story of two second places. Andrew Pozzi’s magnificent silver medal in the European Indoor Championships and our ladies’ racewalking team moving up to 2nd place in the Racewalking Association’s Virtual League. Okay I may not exactly be comparing apples with apples.

Finally, team manager John Raby reports on the club’s very successful outcome in the England Athletics Virtual Road Relays.

I will not be sorry when I can stop typing the word Virtual !

Take care

Best Wishes

David Jones.
Andrew Pozzi in action in Torun.
Big oak trees from little acorns grow.

European Indoor Championships

Report – Paul Bearman

A major athletics championships usually has a noisy and enthusiastic British contingent cheering on the athletes. However, in the stadium in Torun that was devoid of supporters, it suddenly came to life when Andrew Pozzi lined up for the final of the 60m Hurdles and the raucous Italian athletes sitting in the stands “adopted” Andrew.

Not only does he train in Italy but his family roots have Italian connections.

They were cheering even more loudly as he became the first British male athlete to win a medal at the championships, amongst the brilliant British female athletes.

Prior to the championships Andrew told me he knew Wilhem Belocian was going to be his biggest threat and that’s just how it turned out.

Going into the championships Andrew was in great shape and really flying in training that was backed up by 2 very convincing competitive races.

After very classy and fast winning runs in their respective heats and semi-finals for both Andrew and Belocian, it was clear the two big names were going to be the ones to beat in the final; and so it transpired that was how the race ended.

A much improved start by Andrew meant he was to the important first barrier in synch with Belocian and like 2 top class prize fighters they slugged it out down the track, in flawless demonstrations of hurdling and reached the line still in synch but Belocian was given the nod for the gold by the thickness of a vest.

Andrew equalled his PB 7.43s, just .01s away from the gold and afterwards he reflected on a great race and praised Belocian as a deserving winner. “It was tough not to win but I’m really proud of the work my team and I have done in the last few weeks to be here after a very difficult couple of months. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me this weekend, it’s been amazing”.

Ever the inspiration, the club’s hurdling fraternity were, along with many others, glued to the TV watching and immediately after the final Seb Hillard was outside his house practicing his starts!

An interesting take on how Brexit threatens Andrew’s preparation for the Olympic Games and beyond from The Guardian.

Pozzi rues Brexit rules that threaten Olympic hopes

Britain’s world champion hurdler Andrew Pozzi fears his Olympic ambitions are under threat because of new Brexit rules that could force him to quit his training base in Italy.

Pozzi revealed he was desperately trying to get permanent residency to remain training with the Cuban hurdling guru Santiago Antunez – whom he credits with revitalising his career – in Formia.

But the 28-year-old admitted it was proving a “tricky” process. “If any of you guys want to use your powers to help lobby for sports visas or anything like that, then feel free,” he added. “Getting information about the best way to continue in Italy has been very difficult.

Pozzi said he had fallen victim to new Brexit rules that allow UK passport holders to spend only up to 90 days in the Schengen zone during any 180-day period.

That, said Pozzi, was hardly ideal in an Olympic year. “The good thing for me is I have the support of the training centre in Formia,” he added. “But the current rule is that you can only be in Europe 90 days out of every 180. Obviously for an athlete that is not sustainable and it is not the way to prepare.” Under Antunez, Pozzi has focused on rhythm-based exercises and drills – often to salsa music and says he is in the best shape of his life.

But he admits the consequences of leaving the Cuban in an Olympic year could be devastating.

“I have lost an awful lot of years in my career to injury,” he added. “It has been a big part of my career. We have done everything we can to make sure I stay in the best shape possible and keep making progress. It looks like the Olympics are going to go ahead – and you don’t want to give it away.”

Racewalking – Again !
The latest league table for week 48 of the Racewalking Association’s virtual league showing our ladies team comfortably in second place.
The race walking squad, clockwise from top left : Emma Sparrow, Gemma Smith, Kate Sergent and Paul Hawkins with Malcolm Bowyer.
I know this is the second week running I’ve featured a photo of Paul and Malcolm. I promise not to make a habit of it but hey, I’ve got to try and keep in the Chairman’s good books.

Stratford AC racewalkers get a wiggle on!

Report – Gemma Smith

The virtual 2k racewalking results are in. This week the women’s team moves into second place! Kate Sergent improved her time by 1.20 to record at time of 13.45, Emma Louise Sparrow, with a time of16.54, has improved by 17seconds but overall by she has improved by a massive 2.55 since her first entry a few weeks ago and I managed 16.38.

It is great to see Malcolm Bowyer back in the men’s team, returning from injury, improving on last week’s time by 1.40.

Incredibly this is Paul’s 47th entry and thanks to him for getting us involved in this, we’re hooked.

We are looking forward to getting back to training with our coach (when permitted) and hopefully we haven’t picked up too many bad habits!

Here are the results:

A couple of our top 4 ladies in the EA Virtual Road Relay Championships. L to R Charly Marshall and Cadie Hibberd
England Athletics Virtual Road Relay Competition.
Report – John Raby

Between the 10th February and 21st February we were in Round 2 of the EA 5 mile virtual road relay competition, having been in the Top 50 qualifiers in Round 1.

This time it was the outright winning team who progressed to the final round where they’d virtually race against the quickest teams from Wales, Scotland and NI Ireland.

Although we didn’t reach the dizzy heights of first place we did finish an incredibly impressive 30th.

The format remained the same, with competitors running a 5 mile route as quickly as possible. The main rule was that your finish couldn’t be more than -15ft elevation from your start.

The four fastest men and ladies from each club have their times added together to give the team’s final tally.

Our combined time was 3:57:49. The overall winners were Wirral AC 3:32:39.

We finished the fastest overall out of any West Midlands club, as well as beating some big named clubs such as Dulwich AC and Herne Hill Harriers.

Below are all those who ran and submitted times for the club. In bold are those who were the four quickest for our mens and ladies.

Well done and thank you to everyone who took part.

This has been a fantastic result for the club and hopefully, with real races very close upon us, we can replicate this success in real meetings.

Ben Kruze (41st) 25:00, Rich Shephard (100th) 26:15, Alex Adams (190th) 27:28, Matt Burdus-Cook (202nd) 27:34, Richard Liggatt (308th) 28:45, Georgie Campbell (360th) 29:15, Jonathan Ashely (429th) 30:12, Andrew Cox (445th) 30:25, Tim Hutchinson (447th) 30:26, Cadie Hibberd (529) 31:38, David Smyth (644th) 32:51, Theo Skirvin (740th) 34:06, Vicky Sharpe (806th) 35:07, Charly Marshall (823rd) 35:32, Graham Hill (859th) 36:22, Emma Vickers (948th) 39:54, Lara Bakewell (993rd) 44:06, Philippa Paddock (1002th) 44.35, Caroline Skelton (1019th) 48:13