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UK Athletics

club:connect-ion continues

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Birchfield Club Connect
24 February 2015

British Athletics’ Club:Connect campaign continued apace in Birmingham on Saturday 21 February with girls and boys relay races taking place in front of the sell-out crowds at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix.

Now in its second year, the Club:Connect initiative recognises and rewards the work of clubs around the country.

The event at the Barclaycard Arena provided over 100 young athletes from clubs across the Midlands with an unforgettable opportunity to rub shoulders with the international stars of track and field as they took part in a series of 4x200m relay races.

And with £250 grants available to the winning clubs of each of the six events, there was plenty at stake.

Halesowen AC Under 13 girls secured the first victory - and the first cheque for £250 - in a thrilling race which saw the West Midland’s club take an early lead in the first leg.

A fumbled changeover gave Birchfield Harriers a chance to hit the front, then Rugby & Northampton AC took the lead with one lap to go.

But a storming last lap by Halesowen saw the club move up from third to first in the final 100m, crossing the line in 1:59.35.

One of their athletes said: “We did very well apart from the second changeover but then we tried to catch Birchfield Harriers and we managed to get them in the end.  We didn’t expect to win but it is awesome to win here on this track.”

Halesowen then made it two out of two with a straight forward win in the Under 13 boys relay. Leading from the first leg, Halesowen never looked in doubt as they crossed the line in 2:06.88.

We all tried our best and we all did well – we didn’t give up.  It’s great to race here – it’s good experience and we’d like to come back and race here as seniors.”

In the boys Under 15 a strong start by Solihull gave them an early lead but Halesowen continued their domination of events out on track, with a terrific anchor leg which saw them cross the line in 1:39.48.

“We were pleased with that – the race went really well.  We all train together as a group which is really fun and have a really good coach who trains us really hard. We were excited to compete at such a big event.”

There was revenge for Birchfield Harriers in the Under 15 girls 4x200m as the Perry Barr-based quartet led from the gun, finishing in 1:49.27, more than three seconds clear of Halesowen in second place, whilst Rugby & Northampton finished third.

It was hard out there but we managed to keep it together and worked very well as a team. We’ve been practising a lot this week so we are so happy to win. We’d all definitely love to race here again in the future.”

Birchfield Harriers also triumphed in the Under 17 boys relay, hitting the front in the second leg after a strong start by Rugby & Northampton. The winning time was 1:35.95, with Halesowen recovering from a poor changeover to finish third.

“It was good to run out there – we made quite a lead going into the last lap so we just had to maintain it to the finish. It’s great to compete in events like this – you have to make your name known if you are going to make it as a professional. It has been a great day and we would love to do it again.” 

Halesowen were back to their winning ways in the sixth and final Club:Connect relay of the day, securing their fourth win in the Under 17 girls 4x200m.

The quartet looked in terrific form and proved too fast for the opposition, storming home in 1:45.30 with Birchfield Harriers second in 1:46.61 and Solihull third in 1:48.37.   

 It was amazing, we didn’t expect to win, so that was great. We enjoyed the big crowds – they were loud and their support helped our adrenaline. It was also fun seeing ourselves on the camera, it’s all definitely inspired us to train hard so we can hopefully come back to compete here as senior athletes one day.”

Club:Connect will continue into the outdoor season, starting at the Sainsbury’s Birmingham Grand Prix on 7 June at Alexander Stadium.