Over the 29th and 30th January, Southampton University students Abe Newell, Tyson Oladokun and I travelled to the Lee Valley stadium in London to race as part of the Southampton/Solent coalition known as Team Southampton and to rub shoulders with some of the fastest men and women in the country. The standard was high, with the cream of the UK’s sprinting talent on show, in particular 2007 World Championship 4x100m bronze medallist Craig Pickering, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, a 2012 hopeful and second fastest 60m runner last year behind Dwain Chambers, and the third fastest woman in Britain – and fastest junior in the world – 17-year-old Jodie Williams.
Despite currently being deep in the winter strength regime, performances were encouraging. On the Saturday Abe Newell finished first in his 200m, his favoured event, with a time of 23.41 – slightly short of a personal best but considering the slower nature of indoor tracks, and the time of the year, it promises much. Less happy was Tyson, who ran the 400m, and was some three seconds off his personal best, but expects to improve for the upcoming Birmingham games. The following day saw the running of the 60m, in which Abe and I competed. As a shorter distance, competitors are allowed two races; in his first heat Abe finished 5th in a strong field with 7.35s, while your humble writer came first, successfully vanquishing a 50-year-old, a 46-year-old and a few other skinny 19- and 20-year-olds, coincidentally also in 7.35s. Our equal times meant we were paired in the same second heat, and despite almost missing the race we both marginally improved our times, with Abe and I running 7.34 and 7.3 respectively. For some perspective, at this early stage in the season our times rank us around 230th nationally – not too shabby.
With upcoming races in Birmingham and Eton, the three of us, plus a few others unable to race this weekend, will be hoping to see times tumble as we sharpen up in the coming months.