Summer 2017 Annual Track and Field Awards Presentation

Conservative Club Hornchurch 9 November 2018 

 (text of presentation speeches from Tony Benton & Clare Brennan}

 

 

Good evening everybody and welcome on behalf of Havering Athletic Club to the presentation of the track and field awards for 2017.

What an amazing season it’s been! Here are just a few of the highlights!  The Under 13/Under 15 Youth Development League (YDL) again finished third in the highest possible national division the Eastern Young Athletes League team won for the first time since 2003, with wins for the Under 13 girls and under-15 boys & girls. The YDL U17s & U20s won three of their four fixtures to earn a well-deserved promotion to the Southern Premier 2 division.

The UK Women’s team finished their season in style with a win to regain the place in Division 2 next year and the promoted Senior Men’s British League team held their own in National 2 Division, as the Southern Athletics League squad also maintained their League status.

In addition to the usual pile of county podium places there was also medal success at South of England and National Championships with record numbers of representatives and medals at the English Schools event. Club athletes earned international vests for Great Britain at various levels and featured highly in the Power of 10 rankings. No fewer than 18 club records have been beaten or equalled across all age groups this summer – and such is the standard in the club that several of these athletes have missed out on awards - so the future looks very bright. 

So this evening is the chance for us all to celebrate these successes and to recognize the superb efforts of our brilliant team of Club Coaches, our Team Managers, our Officials and all the numerous other volunteers who give up an enormous amount of their time to ensure that athletes are able to do their best when it matters.

There are three categories of award this evening – in each age group we have the Club Best Performance Track Award, the Club Best Performance Field Award and also the Team Member Award all of which have been selected by the respective team managers who it’s fair to say have had some very difficult choices to make after such a great season.  

The presentations will finish with some special awards chosen by the club committee for top performances achieved outside the league system. And there’s two other presentation to round of the formal part of the evening

As usual our Club President Kevin White will be presenting the awards this evening and our Vice Chairman Claire Brennan will once again be saying some kind words from the respective team managers about each of the winners. I’ll hand over to Claire in a few minutes but before that I’ll carry on and say some words about the first award winner.

We start our awards evening with the presentation for the Veteran (or Masters) Women’s on the Track which goes to an athlete who picks up this award for the third consecutive year. She competed in all eight SAL & UK League fixtures, recording 400m hurdles victories in seven of these, and adding two more sprint hurdles win in the SAL. Also scoring well in the pole vault where she equalled her PB, she added points at high jump, shot and javelin. Ranked in the top six nationally in five events in her W35 age group the winner once again is: CLAIRE BRENNAN.

Over to you Claire…

Thank you Tony and good evening and welcome to you all.

Having had the privilege of announcing the T&F award winners for the past two years I thought that this year I would make a little change.  For each age group, I will explain why each athlete has won their award and then invite them all up together to receive them

We begin with the Men’s Masters age group. The Club Best Performance on the Track award goes to an athlete whose level of commitment and unfailing support for the success of the team is second to none.  He is always available and ready to cover any middle or long distance event and his level of performance continues to defy his age….36.  The 2018 season saw him continually push the boundaries culminating in a new personal best in the 10,000m of 33:03.6 and an even faster 10k time of 32:15.  His exceptional talent has at long last been acknowledged and he has received a call up to represent the England M35 team in the Home Countries International at Swansea on 17th November.  Here’s wishing him every success and we look forward to his continued enthusiasm for many years to come, well done ROB WARNER

Next up we have the Club Best Performance in the Field award Even though he has dabbled with the half and full marathons, it is clear that his heart belongs on the track and field.  When the season starts this athlete appears at the league match, gets his numbers and timetable and then off he goes to do his multiple events which usually consists of pole vault and all four throws!  When you pass him he always has a cheery smile and never fails to ask how the team is getting on.  He has been part of the Havering AC men’s team for so many years that even the opposition know his name!  He is possibly the ultimate club athlete, the worthy winner is…ARRON BONNING

And so on to the Team Member Best Performance award We’re always pleased to welcome back former members, particularly if they’re a club record holder whose mark has stood for 30 years!  This athlete returned to the club last year and it’s great to see an athlete who has a specialist event, competing regularly and still competitive after all these years.  The years of honing his craft mean that he is still able to stand his own with athletes who are half his age.  He passes on advice not just to Havering athletes, but to other clubs’ athlete who struggle to get to grips with the difficult event.  He is a credit to all Hammer throwers…the winner is… KEITH ROBINSON

 

I move on to the Senior Women’s age group and begin once more with the Track Best Performance award.  The winner not only takes the hurdles of her main event in her stride but also didn’t let the challenges of coping with two children under four plus a full time job get in the way of representing the club with distinction.  Her superb season not only saw her unbeaten in all seven of her sprint hurdles races at the SAL and UK Women’s leagues, but saw her twice improve her hurdles PB set back 14 years ago in 2004.  She also added high jump points and regularly contested both relays, often recording the fastest of the 400m splits.  A very dedicated athlete and role model for our younger athletes…the worthy winner is… CHLOE WILLIAMS

Next up is the Team Member award which goes to an athlete who competed in four of the five SAL fixtures covering her preferred sprint events the 100m & 200m.  She also willingly filled gaps in the 400m, 400m hurdles, 4x100m relay, and on the field in the discus and javelin disciplines scoring those essential points for the club.  Although not competing in the UK women’s league she nevertheless earned points for the team as a highly qualified field official at two of three fixtures.  We can guarantee that whether competing or officiating she will always do it with a big smile on her face.  The award goes to… RACHEL KERR

 

Moving onto the Senior Men’s category and the winner of the Club Best Performance on the Track award.  At first sight you would be excused for thinking that this athlete is a middle distance runner rather than a sprinter but how wrong you would be!  In his first year as a senior man, he has competed for both the SAL and BAL teams over 100m, 200m and 400m, gaining valuable points for both teams.  Following the club’s promotion in the BAL he has responded to the challenge of stronger opposition with a new personal best of 10.93 seconds in the 100m and 22.10 seconds in the 200m, placing him 15th and 20th on the club’s all-time list.  We’re sure that as he develops further, we will see even greater achievements in the years ahead. The winner is… LEWIS BAILEY

The award for Club Best Performance in the Field which goes to a young man who, having developed into an excellent thrower of the discus, javelin and shot, was once again a major contributor to the success of the team in 2018.  Achieving two wins and three second places in the discus in his five league appearances, and setting a new shot PB to move up to 12th on the club all-time list.  Whilst his best discus achievement in 2018 did not quite reach those of 2017, I’m sure that, with a full winter’s training behind him, 2019 will bring even greater rewards for both himself and the team.  The winner for the third year running is… DUANE JIBUNOH.

The last award in this age group is the Team Member award which goes to an athlete who has remained dedicated to the sport at an age where we usually have the biggest dropout.  He has juggled full time work with training and returns to the club to compete despite now living and working in Reading.  Like all athletes he has his moans and groans but when the going gets tough he was ever present for both the British League and Southern League teams getting those vital points.  During the season he took on new events and afterwards then said “That wasn’t so bad”!  One day, (hopefully never), he might learn what ‘not’ to say to a Team Manager!  The winner for a third year is… KARL TUCKER

Next up is the Under 20 Women’s age group

The Club Best Performance on the Track award goes to an athlete who has had a fantastic season in her first year as an U20 on the track.  She has competed in the UK Women’s League, Southern Athletics League and YDL U20’s winning nearly all her races and gaining substantial points for the team.  Her performances have seen her improving on her PB’s in all her three events the 800m, 1500m, and 3000m.  She bagged herself both a Gold and Silver at the Essex champs in the 3000m and 1500m, won the 3000m at the senior Southern Inter counties and earnt a well-deserved fourth place, and PB at the English Schools.  She has also contributed fast relay legs for the 4 x 400m relay squads, again with much success.  The worthy winner is… KATE O’NEILL

TThe winner of the Club Best Performance in the Field award goes to an athlete who has enjoyed an excellent season competing regularly in the YDL, SAL and UK Women’s team, winning the shot in the final UK fixture against much older athletes and banking the second longest throw by a club Under 20.  She scored well in both the Shot and Discus and also added Hammer points when required.  She enjoyed a great Essex champs picking up Under 20 Gold in both the Shot and Discus and was selected for the English Schools Championships but sadly missed out due to injury.  This athlete earned Essex U20 and Senior county vests at the Eastern and Southern Inter Counties, setting a new discus PB.  The winner is… CHIMDI OKPALAUKO

And so we come to the Team Member award which goes to a young lady who has been an integral part of the YDL and both senior women’s league teams this season.  She mainly competed in the 400m, 200m and triple jump and was one tenth of the UK Women’s league team that travelled to Liverpool, where she even stepped in to throw a discus earning the team valuable points.  She is always willing to be part of the 4 x 400m relay and will fill in the 4 x 100m when asked.  A good season in her last year as an U20 as she now moves up to the seniors.  The winner is…KATIE DAWSON

Now moving onto the Junior (under 20) Men age group and once again begin with the award for the Club Best Performance on the Track.  This year it goes an athlete who had an exceptional first year at the club, competing in the 400m, 800m, 1500m and steeplechase, regularly taking first or second places.  He has been a great asset to the team, always willing to help out on the field, and has been a regular in the 400 relay, often having to dash from the steeplechase and running in wet spikes.  He improved his 800m PB by over three seconds to top the club U20 rankings for this season and is ranked fifth on the U20s all-time list.  He has also improved his 1500m time by over five secs, earning him ninth on the All-Time U20s Club Rankings.  Well done on a remarkable first season…TOM KEEVIL

Moving to the winner of the Best Performance in the Field and another athlete who has been a great asset to the team, competing in the YDL, Southern League and BAL.  He has great enthusiasm for the sport and is always one of the first to respond to calls to compete.  A very strong competitor in both track and field events, achieving some good sprints and relay performances, but it is in the field that has especially excelled this year.  He scored good points in the long Jump, added over a metre to his triple jump PB, and in doing so reached 16th in the U20 All-Time Club Rankings and an impressive 22nd for the year in the National Rankings.  This award goes to…MATTHEW AGNIMEL

For team managers it is often hard to decide upon the winner of the Team Member award but the junior men’s winner is an athlete who lives and breathes Havering AC.  Even wearing his HAC hoodie and promoting the club at college!  He has made great strides on the track this year, gaining PBs in the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 3000 metres, but even more impressive is his loyalty and dedication to the team cause.  He’s always willing to fill gaps and offer his services without even needing to be asked.  He has a very positive and optimistic attitude and his friendly nature and great sense of fun can really lift the spirits on those long coach journeys.  This year the award goes to… JAMES STEWART

Continuing to move down the age groups, we come back to the Under-17 women.

The Club Best Performance on the Track award this year goes to a talented sprinter who can always be relied upon to bring home valuable points for the club.  She has competed in YDL, EYAL and Southern Athletic League competitions this year, growing in confidence and improving her times in the 100, 200 and 300m events as well as representing Essex, all while studying for her GCSEs.  As well as competing in the individual events this young lady regularly anchored home the 4x100m and 4x300m relay squads and is always happy to support other athletes with less track experience.  She has been a joy to have as part of the team and we wish her well as she moves into the Under 20s team taking on her new event, the 400m.  The worthy winner of this award is…JADE KAVANAGH.

The Best Performance award in the Field goes to another athlete who has also been studying hard for her GCSEs this year but has produced a number of outstanding performances and competed as part of the EYAL, YDL and Southern Athletics League teams.  As an experienced thrower, this young lady has competed in Discus, Hammer and shot put events achieving personal bests in both the Discus and shot putt.  Her excellent performance in the shot saw her rewarded with a bronze medal for Essex at the county schools champs in June.  This followed with a call up for the English Schools championships in July, where she achieved an excellent sixth place.  We wish her every success as she also moves to the under 20s next season.  The winner is…ALEXANDREA (ALEX) ADENIJI.

And so we come to the Team Member award which goes to an athlete who has competed in all 10 YDL and EYAL league competitions without exception.  Having recently changed from a middle distance group to focus on sprints, this young lady continued to fill gaps across the board gathering valuable points for the club.  Throughout the season she competed in the jumps, throws, sprints and middle distance events only missing out on the hurdles and long jump to make a full set!  Her love for being one of the team secured her a regular spot on both the 4x100m and 4x300m relay squads which are by far her favourite events!  Her new love for pole vault is sure to keep her busy as she continues her athletics career in the under 20s.  A team player in every sense of the word.  The winner for a second year is… CHARLIE WRIGHT

Now we come to the Under-17 men’s age group and begin with the Best Performance on the Track award.  This athlete has had an exceptional year in his first full season at the club.  He competed regularly in the YDL, EYAL, and also the Southern athletics league, in the 100m and 200m events and also sprint relay, where he regularly finished in the top three against top opposition, scoring excellent points for the team.  He won gold in the Essex Schools 100m in a new PB to enter the club all-time top 10 for his age group.  He now moves into the Under 20 age group where we hope to see more from… RICHARD AKINYEBO

The Best Performance Field award goes to an athlete who was ever-present in the 10 EYAL fixtures in his first year in the age group. After previously concentrating on track events, this year he has moved to compete in the long, high and triple jumps with great success scoring high points for the club and often finishing first and second.  His commitment to the team was shown on the day of the EYAL final when he unfortunately missed the coach but his parents pulled out all the stops to get him there just in time for his first event.  The points he gained that day proved crucial to the team’s overall victory.  With another year in this age group we’re sure there is much more to come from… KIMATHI CHRISTIE

The Team Member award goes to a thoroughly deserving athlete who has has been a very important and valuable member of the team this season.  He competed at all but one of the EYAL and YDL fixtures and often sacrificed his preferred events to help the team out, covering all track events from 100 to 1500m plus the steeplechase.  On the day of the EYAL final at Ipswich he competed in the 100m hurdles, an event he had never done before just to get those extra valuable points for the team and then later went on to improve his 1500m PB.  His success this season also saw him win silver at the Essex Schools championships in the 1500 steeple chase.  Good luck in the Under 20s…LOUIS BERRETT

And so we move down another age group to the Under-15 girls.
The award for the Best Performance Track goes to a very committed athlete, who always gives 100% in training and competitions and who came back, this season, very determined after injury last year.  She has a great attitude and is looked up to by many of the younger sprinters in the team and the club.  She is an integral team member scoring highly in the EYAL and YDL in 100m and 200m, and she was part of the club record breaking 4x100m relay team.  She also won silver in the Essex Schools 100m and her 100m PB ranks her sixth best in the club all-time Under 15 lists.  We wish you success for the future in the Under 17s…ISABELLA (BELLA) SMITH.

 

The Best Performance Field award has been won this year by a very talented young lady, who won all but one of her discus competitions for club teams this season.  She has had a fantastic season on both the track and field, and as well as winning county gold medals, she went on to be runner up at the English Schools championships in the 800m.  Not forgetting her second places in both the discus and 800m at the England U15 championships at Bedford.  She is ranked second on the club Under 15 all-time discus list with a throw of 37.71 metres, was close to the 300m record and has the fourth best ever time over 800m.  Keep up the hard work…ALICE BROWN.

The Team Member aaward goes to a very determined young lady who has had an amazing first season with the club.  She has been an asset to the team this year competing well in the 200m, high jump, long jump and relay events.  It has been a pleasure to have such a talented young lady join the team; she is a very popular and reliable team member who always encourages other athletes.  Her challenge for next season is to believe in herself as much as others around her do.  We wish her good luck in the Under 17s next season…TAYLLAH BARTON-CONDE

We now come to the Under-15 Boys age group and the winner of the Best Club Performance Track award.  This year it has been won by an athlete who has shown an impressive range of talents in his first season competing for the club.  His excellent roll of honour brought him Essex hurdles silver, and an Essex Schools hurdles victory.  He won four of his EYAL hurdles league races as well as the EYAL final, and clocked further wins from his two YDL appearances.  After placing fourth in the South of England Championships and sixth in the English Schools Final he won silver in the England Athletics Championships breaking the club 80m hurdles record with an outstanding 11.24 second clocking.  Like his father, he is talented across a range of events which was further highlighted when he was part of the Essex Schools Pentathlon Junior Boys team who took the National team title this season.  He is a well-mannered and clearly driven athlete.  Keep up the good work in the under 17s…TOBY BISHOP.

The Best Performance award for Field events goes to another supremely talented athlete who finished the season unbeaten in all of his EYAL and YDL appearances for javelin.  In 2018 he was ranked No.2 in the UK with a best throw of 61.25m, which places him second on the club all time ranking list.  Not surprisingly he also won the Essex County gold, the Essex Schools championships and went on to a grab a superb silver in the English Schools.  Oh and silver again in the England Athletics Championships.  An out and out clear winner, who is also a great team asset with an ability to cover a good range of events.  He was also mainstay 300m A-string, and part of the winning 4x300m Essex Championship relay team which set a club record of 2:41.36.  Along with Toby he was also part of the Essex Schools Pentathlon winning team.  The deserving winner is BRADLEY JAMES.

Finally, in this age group, we come to the Team Member award which has been deservedly won by another star across a variety of events and who was the team’s top points scorer this season for the age group.  With a vast array of wins across the season, including 10 in the EYAL fixtures, he particularly excelled at high jump and 300m.  However he was also a regular and dependable member of the teams 4x100m and 4x300m relay squads and was also a vital part of the 4x300m relay Essex Championship club record team.  A team manager’s dream, he is clearly passionate about his sport, but also has a calm manner about him.  So thoroughly deserved, well done…DARAGH THOMAS.

Finally it’s the turn of the youngest age group, the Under-13s and we begin with the girls’ awards who have been waiting so patiently for their awards.
The
Best Club Performance on the Track award goes to an athlete who has made a truly amazing contribution this season.  Such is her talent that she has competed in 10 different disciplines, registering the club best performance in eight of these and second best in the other two.  She appears in nine separate events in the all-time top 10 for U13 Girls and is club record holder at 800m.  She is ranked in the top 20 nationally in five different events including second for 800m and eighth for long jump.  A key member of the track relay team and also the team’s best cross country runner, there really isn’t an event she can’t do!  Critical to the team’s success, a leader by example and a pleasure to manage, I think you’ll agree that the winner’s amazing season means she truly deserves this award...STEPHANIE OKORO.

 

The Club Best Performance award for the Field events in this category goes to an athlete who has undertaken the majority of club throwing duties this season, notching up 22 league performances in shot, discus and javelin.  She has greatly improved in all disciplines but her discus performance is of special note, as over the summer she has almost doubled her distance to 30.58m and winning 17 of 18 competitions including her Essex debut.  She is ranked third in the club’s all-time top 10 list for U13 girls and also ranks third nationally.  She also holds the club Under 13 record for Hammer.  A brilliant team member, she is the first to put inexperienced athletes at ease and makes sure everyone feels part of the group.  She is very popular with everyone and always fully committed making her the stand out winner of this award.  Every lucky team manager should wish to have an athlete like…KATIE ENNIS.

The Team Member award goes to a young lady who this year has cemented her position as a leading contender in all the events she takes part in.  She has competed in seven different individual events registering the best club performance in three and second best in three others.  She is ranked in five events in the all-time top 10 for U13 girls, and also ranking in the top 65 nationally in each case.  She is also the club record holder at 60m.  A permanent member of the 4x100m relay team who represented the club at the Anniversary Games for the second time and has this season also had her debut for Essex.  She is a fantastic team member who has made a significant contribution to the team’s success this year.  The truly deserving winner of this award is.....PARIS KING

And so we come to the final three age group awards, in the Under-13 boy’s age group.
The
Best Club Performance Track award has been won by a young athlete for which talent like his does not come along too often.  His impressive roll of honour brought him Essex 75m hurdles gold in a new county and club record of 11.74s, Essex & Eastern Indoor hurdles and high jump golds, as well as South of England and Southern Inter Counties Under 13 hurdles golds.  He competed in 10 of the 11 EYAL and YDL club competitions recording numerous wins and his hard work and achievements not only brought him a club 75m hurdles record, and fifth place national ranking, but also a third place all-time high jump ranking.  He was also a regular member of the 4x100m sprint relay squad and one of the Essex County Bronze medal winning 4 x 100m relay quartet. He is a well-mannered and clearly driven athlete.  Keep up the good work in the Under 15s…DOMINIC ALEXANDRU.

The Club Best Performance for Field award goes to a young man who started the season not entirely sure of whether he was a track or field athlete.  New to the club he was given the opportunity to compete at the EYAL and quickly found his niche for the field events.  He made improvements with almost every competition that he competed in, recording PB after PB.  He was chosen to represent Essex in the shot put, and threw a javelin PB which ranks him in the club all-time Top 10.  He takes his performances to another level by purchasing equipment to practice outside of club training sessions and always puts 100% effort into his events.  His team manager says what a polite, well-mannered athlete he is who has been a pleasure to manage this year.  He has been a great addition to the Havering team and we look forward to him continuing to improve as he steps up to U15’s next year.  The winner of this award is…MATTHEW PAGE.

The final Team Member award of the evening goes to a young man who has emerged to become a versatile athlete.  Having started by focusing on 100m, 200m and long jump he later went on to assist the team by filling gaps in events including; high jump and javelin.  He was a permanent member of the Under 13 sprint relay squad, competing at the Anniversary Games and one of the Bronze medal winning quartet at the 4x100 Essex Relays.  He represented the club on eight occasions including the Eastern Young Final.  A last minute call up to cover an injury in the Essex 800m relay squad saw him record a surprisingly good time and at the next YDL event he clocked Havering’s fastest 800m time by an Under 13 boy this year.  He has made a significant contribution to the team's success this year, and a bright future ahead.  The worthy winner is… LEWIS DIXON

We now come to the Special Awards presented for Best Performances by the Club Committee for performances outside the usual Club League competitions.

The first of these is for Males in the age range U13 –U17 and it’s not a surprise that this goes to an outstanding athlete winning this award for the fourth consecutive year and hardly surprising given the season he’s just had.  On the first weekend in April he added 6m to his PB to claim the club Under 17 record, and his results in May achieved the GB selection standard for the European Under 18 Championships in Hungary.  He excelled in GB colours and with it came a huge PB of 75.30m (some 13m improvement this season and the second longest ever by a UK Under 17) which almost earned a medal before last round throws pushed him down into a still impressive fourth place in Europe.  He is the undisputed UK Number 1, unbeaten in his age group including gold medals at the Essex, Southern, English Schools, England Athletics, UK School Games and Schools International.  He moves to the Under 20 age group with confidence, as only three U20 beat his best javelin mark.  Once again congratulations go to MAX LAW

Next it’s the Female Best Performance in the age range U13 – U17 and the winner is an athlete who has already featured at these presentations as an Under 15 winner last year.  She was also unbeaten in her age group throughout the season, winning every championship gold medal in sight at county and national level.  She set massive new club Under 15 & Under 17 shot records, before another personal best at the Eastern Young Athletes Final in September took her to Number 2 on the UK all-time Under 15 list.  She also competed in nine of the 10 club league fixtures, adding points in the hammer and high jump to her shot victories.  The Under 17 age group will hold no fears for her as the shot weight stays the same!  The outstanding winner is…OMOLOLA (LOLA) KUPONIYI

Now to the Male age group U20 – Veterans.  When an athlete breaks a club record set by one of the UK All-time great athletes (Fred Alsop) that had stood since 1964, you know they are something special.  A silver medal in the England Athletics Under 20 Championships, and South of England gold, were just appetisers.  As he followed with an English Schools long jump gold medal and club Under 20 and senior record of 7.78m, which deservedly brought him a UK Under 20 vest.  A clear UK number 1 in his Under 20 age group, and sixth longest in the national senior rankings, he also competed regularly in club teams in the YDL, Southern League & British League in all three jumps and both sprints and relays.  A great example of how far you can jump on a diet of custard creams!  The winner is SHANDELL TAYLOR.

Now for the final individual award, for the Female age group U20 – Veterans.  Not many athletes break a club senior record as an Under 17 but this athlete did just that in 2017, when she received the field best performance award in that U17 age group.  The start of her first season as an Under 20 was delayed until late May but she didn’t let this stop her, improving her club U20 & senior marks in her first competition.  She went on to twice extended that mark before yet another PB and club record when winning triple bronze at the English Schools championships.  Unbeaten at triple jump in the three UK Women’s league fixtures, she also had five league long jump wins and competed well for club teams at 100m, relay, high jump, shot & javelin.  With another year as an Under 20 the future is bright for…MAYI HUGHES

Now before we let you loose on the buffet or the bar there’s one more special presentation to tell you about.

The first of these isn’t awarded every year but this year such was the excellent performances that we felt it was well deserved. The Cleanaway Havering Best Relay Performance Trophy was introduced by the Cleanaway Havering organisation (now known as Veolia) who contributed some 50,000 towards the costs of refurbishing the track and field facilities at Hornchurch Stadium in 2004.
This summer was an excellent one, with three teams breaking club relay records
, and three relays quartets representing the club in the Olympic Stadium at the Anniversary Games.  Among these results however, was a series of stand-out relay performances by a team which we recognise tonight.  The Under 15 girls 4x100m club record of 50.5 seconds had stood since July 1971 and had withstood all attempts to break it in the 47 previous seasons.  Two fast times against top opposition at the April & May YDL fixtures suggested that this was about to change and so it did on a chilly evening at the Essex Relay Championships at Basildon at the end of June.  A heat time of 50.62s went close and a few hours later a gold medal performance of 50.30s rewrote the club record books.  That alone would have justified this award but two weekends later this mark was beaten twice more, first at the home YDL match on 21st July, with a time of 50.0s, and then the following day at the Anniversary Games with an amazing 49.79s.  Congratulations to the record-breaking Under 15 sprint relay quartet of: Aaliyah Payne, Paige Robinson, Shalom Gbadebo and Bella Smith   

And so we come to the final accolade of the evening and it is with great pleasure that I get to tell you a little about the winner of the Services to Coaching award.

The winner of this award has made a huge impact on the sport and the club through the contributions that he has made and the thousands of hours that he dedicates to athletics, so much so that I could be here all evening telling you about them.  However I will try my best to give you an overview which includes some of his many highlights.

This gentleman started off his athletics career in back in 1969 as a member of Essex Beagles AC.  At first he competed in the sprints and jump disciplines before becoming a hurdler a couple of years later.  Throughout the 1970’s he competed as a hurdler and jumper in the British Athletics League where he achieved a PB in the 110mH of 16.1 and 6.52m in the LJ.  Whilst still competing during the late 80’s/early 90’s he decided to take on more of a leadership role and became the Essex Beagles Men’s Southern League team manager.  However, it was in 1991 when he first became a member of Havering AC, joining alongside his son.  In 1993, having shown a keen interest in the club and his love for athletics, he was invited to start coaching and went on to qualify as Level 1 Assistant coach in 1995, later achieving his Level 3 Coaching license in 2000.  During this time his group consisted of a small group of athletes, (including his son Kevin and daughter Sarah), who were mainly hurdlers with a couple of sprinters.  Throughout this period he regularly attended coaching workshops gaining new coaching techniques and methods to best develop his athletes helping them to achieve medals at county championships and reach South of England championship finals.  Success grew a larger training group, until in 2002, his first athlete, Chloe Van Wulven, was selected for the English Schools Championships.  But this was just the start and further English Schools Championships followed for Chloe in 2003, 2004 and 2006 with the highlight seeing her crowned 80mH English Schools Champion in 2004.  Since then he has coached other athletes to English schools successes including; Lisa Scofield, Nicola Hill (IG 400mH gold), Robbie Claricoats, George Hadler, Tom Pitkin, Michelle Hughes, and most recently Toby Bishop & Ruby Mace.  But it doesn’t stop there; in 2015 he coached Michelle Hughes to U20 Heptathlon gold in the England Athletics champs, which earned her a GB U18 vest, competing at the World Youth Champs in Columbia.  And this summer he coached Toby Bishop to silver in the U15 80mH at England Athletics champs and helped Sam Sanusi to achieve English Schools U15 pentathlon gold.

I’m sure you'll agree that the success of these athletes would not be possible without his dedication and hard work.  His determination to see them succeed and achieve their full potential is evident in the many athletic meetings that he is present at each season.  Covering all the age groups of the athletes he coaches you’ll either see him standing on the side lines continuing to give coaching advice or trying his best to settle those last minute nerves.  And if he’s not there you can guarantee he’ll be at the finish line with stopwatch in hand!!

His services to coaching extends beyond the athletes he coaches.  He has been the club's coaching coordinator for many years now; helping to manage our large team of coaches all with different expertise as well as bringing new coaches into the club.  He liaises with England Athletics and the Essex Athletics Network to gain funding towards the costs of coaching courses to best develop our team of coaches further.  Part of this roles has also involved him holding regular coaches meeting to help ensure the smooth running of the coaching team and keep them working together to keep our athletes safe at all times.

Outside of Havering AC he has also arranged hurdles workshops for England Athletics and took on the role of the Essex Athletics Network coaching coordinator from 2010-2017, arranging workshops and development sessions for coaches across Essex.

Many of you will know that his involvement in Havering AC does not stop there!  He is a graded official (timekeeper), UK Women’s League team manager, club Chairman and most importantly the keeper of our very precious club rankings and records.  However the list of roles that he’s had in the club in the 27 years that he’s been a member is endless and I know that he’s probably itching to correct me on a mistake I’ve made already! 

Having been coached by this man myself for seven years and competed for him in more meetings than I can remember, I know only too well what athletics means to him and I’m sure there is royal blue and gold blood running through those veins of his!  I know his athletes are eternally grateful for the hours that he dedicates to them and look forward to receiving Christmas presents to see what item they can add to their Benton Posse kit collection!

What more can I say except, thank you….Tony Benton

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