Owen Merrett's record is highlight as athletics returns to Yate Outdoor Sports Complex

September 01 2020
Owen Merrett's record is highlight as athletics returns to Yate Outdoor Sports Complex

FOR most of the year, the return of athletics has seemed to be a forlorn hope.

During lockdown, athletes have been training in their back gardens and round the streets, and more recently in carefully distanced small groups, but a cautious return has now been made with three pilot meetings held at Yate Outdoor Sports Complex.

The highlight of the first meeting on July 19 was the breaking of one of Yate & District Athletics Club’s oldest records, for the under-17 men’s hammer.

Owen Merrett's 65.03m added nearly a metre to the distance set by Charlie Beresford in 1989.

Taking this long-standing club record may be some consolation in a season when Owen would surely have been favourite for the English Schools title and a run-out in the home international.

He bettered the record in mid-August at Lea Valley in London, when a throw of 69.17m qualified him for the European U18 Championships.

At a second pilot meeting on August 16, dedicated to throwing and jumping, two more Yate hammer throwers broke club records: Toby Conibear broke the under-20 men’s record with a throw of 55.08m, while Felicity Whiteway threw 38.91m to take the under-15 girls’ record.

Adam Brooks and Luke Ball showed that the lay-off had done them little harm. Adam jumped 2.05m and Luke 1.95m in the high jump, before both improving on these performances when they travelled to Lea Valley, where Adam recorded a personal best of 2.13m and was invited to the British Championships in Manchester. Luke passed the coveted 2.00m mark to put him in with a chance of eventual European competition.

Pole vaulters were out in force, glad of the chance to compete at last. Ben Latham cleared 3.30m, but Adam Nolan was not far behind with a vault of 2.90m. Mention must also be made of Arissa Burgess. Under-13 girls are not supposed to do pole vault. Still less are they supposed to beat boys and under-17 women! Arissa set a new club record of 2.25m, which unofficially makes her the best in the country.

The third pilot meeting, on August 23, was devoted to track racing and saw athletes from all over the country travelling to Yate.

One highlight for Yate athletes was a good win in the 800m by Greg Hayward, who came home a clear winner in under two minutes, demonstrating the value of hard work and persistence throughout his teenage years.

Also impressive were Phoebe Havard in the 100m – who clocked 12.82 secs, with only negligible wind behind her – and Adam Nolan in the 400m, whose 56.25 secs secured a fine win.

Stuart Nunn