Neil Featherby: Norfolk track and field is in a good place

Tyler Bilyard

Tyler Bilyard, seen here on his way to victory in the recent Smile Mile Challenge in Norwich - Credit: Baz Hipwell

It has been great seeing all the posts on social media this week from those who took part in a very successful Blickling Half Marathon - and well done to all of them and the organisers.

But it has also been a super last couple of weeks for our track and field athletes.

Talking to Clive Poyner (chair, Athletics Norfolk), he was really pleased when going through the names on his list - firstly mentioning Tyler Bilyard (CoNAC and Gt Yarmouth) who travelled to Manchester (Sportcity) for the BMC Grand Prix last weekend and finished second in the 800m in a time of 1:50.17, which must surely now set him up for a sub-1:50 clocking. This is also on the back of Tyler’s recent big Smile Mile win on May 14 in Norwich.  

Then there was Evie Patrick (CoNAC) and Calvin Smith (Shaftesbury Barnet) who also last weekend produced equally superb performances of 11.89 for 100m and 22.06 for 200m at Dagenham.

Clive Poyner - chair, Athletics Norfolk 

Clive Poyner - chair, Athletics Norfolk - Credit: Clive Poyner

However, and in Clive’s words “pride of place must go to Izzy Mardle” also of CoNAC, after she equalled the UK record for the U15 girls in the 75m hurdles with a time of 10.75 seconds at Lee Valley on Monday.    

“That is all absolutely brilliant, Clive,” I said before he quickly responded with: “Hang on, I am nowhere near finished yet” before going on to very proudly tell me that Izzy and the others weren’t the only ones doing the business when it came to flying the county flag high.

Jaiden Dean (CoNAC), also at Lee Valley, lowered the U17 boys 100m hurdles county record with a superb time of 13.24s which places him second in the national rankings and Harry Taylor (CoNAC) ran one of the fastest 100m recorded by a Norfolk athlete at Worthing on Tuesday when clocking 10.35s.  

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Then on the international scene, we had javelin thrower Daniel Bainbridge (Shaftesbury Barnet) who made his senior GB debut at the European Team Championships in Poland on May 29, producing a huge throw of 73.73m, which is the furthest distance ever thrown by a Norfolk athlete. This of course includes the great Tim Newnham from whom Danny has also now taken his county record.

Great Britain's Sophie McKinna in action in the Women's Shot Put at the Gateshead International Stad

Sophie McKinna in action at Gateshead - Credit: PA

Last, but most certainly not least, was Sophie McKinna (Gt Yarmouth) who finished an excellent fourth in cold and windy conditions at the Muller Grand Prix event at Gateshead on May 23 with a throw of 18.36m.

Clive also asked me to mention the following dates to say that the Norfolk Schools Championships has attracted 277 athletes along with 75 in the Anglian Schools at the Sportspark on June 12, followed by the County Championships (all ages), which is scheduled for Sunday, August 1, with online entries opening soon.

Quadkids match 1 will be held at Great Yarmouth this weekend, which will give the under 11s the chance to compete locally, whilst other matches are being lined up and scheduled for Thetford, Norwich and King’s Lynn which can be entered via the Athletics Norfolk website.

It really is very clear to see that while things are now starting to happen again with regards to live competition, track and field here in Norfolk is indeed looking in good shape.

Having mentioned the Blickling Half Marathon at the start of this column, I must also mention and say a huge well done to some of our other county road runners who took part in the Boston Marathon and Half Marathon in Lincolnshire on Monday. 

Wymondham’s Kevin Holland led the way in the marathon with a brilliant run, recording 2:35:49. Kevin’s club-mates Kyle Brooks, Kate Gooding and Hilary Byrne also produced excellent finishing times of 2:39:24, 3:33:30 and 3:44:28. Norfolk Gazelles' Phil Whiting was overjoyed after going under the three-hour mark for the first time, in 2:59:13. “A dream realised! It’s taken 11 years, 29 marathons, but I’ve finally done it,” he said on his Facebook page.

BVH’s Simon Bales finished fifth in his age category (45-49) in the half marathon whilst also breaking the 80-minute barrier for the first time, finishing in 79:46.

Well done to every single person mentioned and of course apologies to those who I haven’t given a name check to.

As always, just keep on running.