19th February 2014

Birchfield Dominate Club:connect Relays

Birchfield Harriers had a day to remember as they ran out dominant winners of both the male and female Club:Connect relays at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix last Saturday.

As part of British Athletics’ campaign to reward and recognise the work of clubs, Birchfield went up against Wolverhampton & Bilston, Halesowen AC, Solihull & Smallheath, Rugby & Northampton and Royal Sutton Coldfield in relays consisting of 400m, 300m, 200m and 100m legs.

The female Club:Connect relay got the day’s action underway at the NIA and the Birchfield quartet of Amy Hillyard, Phoebe White, Donatella Da Silva and Jayda Regis crossed the line in 2:21.62; nearly six seconds ahead of nearest rivals Wolverhampton and Bilston.

18 year old Amy Hillyard, who ran the opening leg of 400m, said that her team enjoyed the unique experience of competing in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,500 at the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix.

She said: “We really enjoyed it; it was an interesting way to start off the Grand Prix. It was amazing to compete in front of a big crowd because everyone is cheering for you and you’re not used to that in normal competitions.”

In the male equivalent, GB & NI international Elliot Rutter led the Birchfield team off on the 400m leg before handing over to Jaskaran Notta and Tyrella Williamson-Greene and then Zachary Elliott brought them home six seconds clear in a time of 2:03.57.

Under 13 Zachary Elliott savoured the once in a lifetime opportunity to compete at what is widely regarded as the world’s best indoor athletics meeting. “It was amazing out there,” he said. “It’s a dream to be that far in front because you can just go out there and enjoy it and not strain too much.”

Elliott Rutter added: “It’s really good for the younger athletes to come out here and perform in front of such a big crowd and Club:Connect is a good incentive to compete.”

The Perry Barr-based club received two grants of £200 for their victories and club chairman Andy Paul insists that the money will go a long way in helping Birchfield to develop further.

He explained: “The financial reward will go back into the club’s work – offering competition and great coaching to our talented young members – both current and those we work to find within the local Birmingham community.

"The Club:connect idea is a great one to give opportunity for emerging talent to experience the big stage – something they should all aspire too in time. The Birchfield teams had a great day and we are very proud of their performances."

Local athletes were also given the chance to put their questions to established stars as British Athletics hosted a Club:Connect Q&A session on the eve of the Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix.

World 100m hurdles bronze medallist Tiffany Porter, long jump Diamond Race winner Shara Proctor and former world youth 100m champion Asha Philip discussed topics with local club athletes ranging from their approach to training and racing to their childhood sporting icons.