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Medals and Team GB call up for Holly

What a fantastic 10 day period it has been for Andover AC athlete Holly Mills. Medals at National Championships and a Team GB call up as the icing on the cake!

Holly’s first outdoor national championships of the season were the England Athletics U20 age group championships at Bedford International Stadium. Despite still being in the U17 age category Holly wanted to compete against older athletes to gain valuable experience for the future and having jumped further than many of the U20 athletes entered for the competition, she was confident of securing a medal. Her main competition was likely to come from Eleanor Broome who was closely matched with Holly last season and has just moved up to the U20 age group.

This turned out to be the case with both girls again closely matched. Both girls opened the competition with jumps of 6.11m. Mills took a slight lead with a leap of 6.12m in round 4 only for Broome to immediately follow that with 6.15m. Both girls then jumped 6.10m in round 5 and with Mills fouling in the final round Broome finished with 6.21m to take the title with Mills taking the Silver medal.

A few days later Holly then received an invitation to compete at the British Championships which were also being used as trials for the senior athletes looking to gain selection for the Rio Olympics. Normally athletes from the U20 age group and older are invited but in exceptional circumstances U18 athletes meeting certain criteria are given the opportunity to compete. This was the case for Holly and it would be the biggest competition she had ever competed at to date.

Despite being up against athletes that were used to competing on the bigger stage Holly was not overawed and was inspired by the competition. Although conditions were not ideal Holly produced a fine series of jumps with 5 of her 6 jumps beyond the 6m mark. A first round 5.71m was followed by 6.09m in round two and 6.23m in round three. Further jumps of 6.07m, 6.20m and 6.04m in the final three rounds saw Mills finish in an amazing 3rd place.

It was a proud moment for Holly when she took her place on the podium to receive her Bronze medal alongside Olympic athletes, Shara Proctor and Jazmin Sawyers.

However, the icing on the cake for Holly was receiving the call a day later to advise that she had been selected to represent Team GB at the inaugural European Youth Championships which are being held in mid July in Tbilisi, Georgia. This has been Holly’s goal for the season and with over 70 athletes achieving the qualifying standards to be selected in an elite team consisting of just 33 athletes is a magnificent achievement.

Holly said ‘I am over the moon to have been selected to represent my country at what will be my first major international championships. I’m really looking forward to what will be a great experience for me in my pursuit to become a top international athlete. A big thanks to my coach, James Coney, who has helped me achieve my first international call up’.

Holly wins on first GB International appearance

Last weekend Andover AC’s 16 year old star athlete, Holly Mills, gained her first GB International vest as she was selected to represent GB&NI Juniors at the Loughborough International held at Loughborough University. This annual fixture is the traditional season opener for many GB international athletes who use the event to try and achieve an early qualifying standard for the major events over the summer months. The event is an International match with teams from England, Scotland, Wales, British Universities and Loughborough University competing against the GB juniors team. Many of the athletes competing were U23 and U20 athletes but senior athletes were also competing, looking to achieve the all important qualifying standards.

 It was a fantastic achievement for Holly to be selected for the GB Team as the Juniors team consists of U20 athletes and only in exceptional circumstances do U17 athletes get selected for the team. Holly was selected for her favourite event, the Long Jump and was looking to achieve the qualifying standard for the European Youth Championships being held in Tbilisi in July. Having already jumped the 6m qualifying mark indoors over the winter and twice already in her first two outdoor meetings of the season she was looking to add to these with a good performance at this prestigious event that in the past has seen event winners go on to be Olympic Champions.

Competition was strong as several athletes were looking to achieve the qualifying mark for the World Junior Championships in July and one other athlete was looking to achieve the same standard as Holly for the European Youth Championships. Holly started with a solid jump of 5.84m in the first round and then went into the lead with a 6.21m jump in round two. With 3 other athletes jumping over 6m with the 2nd placed athlete on 6.18m the margin of Holly’s lead was small. However, this was a lead that Holly never relinquished as further jumps of 5.99m, 6.11m and 6.21m was followed by her best jump of the day and best of the season so far of 6.24m in the final round to seal victory in her first appearance as a GB International.

This was a good competition to test Holly against several of the top female Long Jump athletes in the UK and she wasn’t fazed by the occasion or the other competitors, all of whom were two years or more older than her. This result will now hopefully give Holly a good chance of being selected for the Great Britain Team for the European Youth Championships in Tbilisi in July. If selected this will be a great achievement and just reward for the hard work Holly puts in to her athletics but she also recognises that she wouldn’t be where she is today without the support and guidance given by her coach James Coney.

 

Holly selected for Great Britain & NI team

16 year old Holly Mills has today received the news that she has been selected to represent Great Britain & NI at the Loughborough International to be held on 22 May.

Holly has been selected for the GB Juniors (U20) team and is the youngest member of the squad. The international match is the annual curtain raiser to the British Athletics outdoor season and teams from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and British Universities will contest the match alongside the GB juniors team.

Holly’s selection is down to her performances over the last 12 months and the fact that she is currently ranked 5th in the UK for the women’s Long Jump, with only senior athletes ranked above her. Holly is delighted with her selection which is a result of the dedication and commitment she puts in. She is also grateful for the time and effort coach James Coney has put in to helping her and enabling her to gain her first Team GB international vest.

Double Gold for Holly at National Indoor Champs

Holly Mills was in top form at last weekend’s England Athletics National Indoor Championships held at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield with two gold medal performances in the U17 Long Jump and 60m Hurdle events.

Going into the Long Jump competition on the Saturday Holly was a clear favourite based on her performances from last year and her current indoor form from this year where her season’s best jumps were a considerable way further than any of the other competitors. Having won both the indoor and outdoor National U17 Titles last year she was therefore looking to defend her title plus looking to enhance her growing reputation as one of the UK’s best Long Jump athletes, not only in her U17 age group but amongst all women Long Jump athletes.

Holly set out her intentions from round one with an impressive leap and new indoor PB of 6.13m.  However, while that was strong enough for gold it ended up being only her third longest leap of the day as she extended her lead with a fifth round jump of 6.22m – the second longest ever indoor by a British Under 17, second only to Margaret Cheetham’s 6.25 in 1985. In the sixth and final round she added a 6.16m leap to end an impressive series of jumps. These 6m plus jumps also achieved the required qualifying standard for Holly’s season goal of a place in the Team GB squad at the European Youth Championships in July and she will now look to build on these indoor performances in the early part of her summer schedule.

Day two saw Holly in action in the 60m Hurdles and again she was one of the favourites having set the fastest times in the indoor season so far this year. She cruised through the heats in a steady time of 8.86secs but showed what she is capable of in winning her semi final in the fastest time of the day in 8.66secs.

With a couple of rivals improving their own best times Holly knew that the final could well be decided in the first few strides. This proved to be the case as she was quickly out of the blocks putting pressure on her rivals. With a couple of rivals faltering at the first hurdle she led over all hurdles and despite heavily fatigued legs she crossed the line to win in 8.67secs and claim her first National Indoor Track medal and her second Championship Title of the weekend.

Also in action at these championships was Holly’s teammate Darcie Henderson who was competing in her first ever National Championships in both the 60m and 200m events. Going into the event with a 60m PB of 8.04secs Darcie knew that she would have to improve on this and was therefore looking to achieve a new PB. This she achieved in her heat where she finished 4th in 7.98secs to qualify for the semi final. Drawn against several athletes that had run under 7.90secs it was going to be a tough ask to reach the final and this proved to be the case as she finished 7th in a time of 8.00secs.

The 200m is Darcie’s preferred event and on Day 2 she was again targeting a new PB against tough opposition. In her heat Darcie was drawn against the 60m Champion and eventual 200m Champion, Ciara Neville, but not to be deterred she ran a solid race to finish 2nd in a new indoor PB of 25.75secs and qualify for the semi final. She was again drawn against Neville in the semi final and despite carrying a slight knee injury from the heats Darcie ran another solid race to finish 4th another 25.75secs time.

Both girls should be proud of the performances at these high class quality championships and both will be looking to use these as a good grounding for the forthcoming outdoor track and field season.

Young Athletes’ Meeting 2016

Andover AC Young Athletes’ Meeting 2016

At its January committee meeting the Management Committee of Andover Athletic Club discussed setting a date for its annual Young Athletes Meeting (YAM). Sunday 29th May was initially agreed upon, a reaction to the Hampshire County Championships reverting back to its traditional fixture of the 14th and 15th May. However, circumstances have arisen that have led the club to take the decision to cancel this year’s meeting. We have not made this decision lightly, carefully considering all available options before issuing this statement.

After successfully delivering the YAM for several seasons, our Event Secretary stepped down from the role this year. He worked tirelessly year on year in a demanding role that has made our open meeting one of the most popular in the Southern region. The club is advertising the role internally; though to date no member or associate has come forward expressing interest. Unfortunately without an Event Secretary the meeting won’t even get off the ground. If you are interested in assisting the club and taking up this volunteer role please do contact me, or any of the coaching staff.

Many of the regular event team are unavailable which reinforced the decision to cancel. This would not have had quite the impact it has had we greater volunteer resources to call upon. Volunteers are the nucleus of our club, without them we cannot continue to deliver such events. Consideration to move the date of the meeting proved futile, the Hampshire timetable is heavily congested, and confliction with other events likely to affect the number of entries we received.

In light of the above Andover Athletic Club will take a gap year to evaluate the benefits (to the club) of the event in its existing format, and whether we need to look at a new model(s) that is more manageable and appealing to those wishing to volunteer their help. We hope that you support our decision, please let us know of any ideas or suggestions that you believe would improve the event; we would value your input. We hope this news does not detract from your enjoyment of the approaching outdoor season.

Mark Bradford
(Chairman – Andover Athletic Club)
Tel: 07876 178809 Email: mabradford@hotmail.co.uk

Andover Athletics Club Coach Craig Evans remembered with a lap of honour

From Andover Advertiser:

OVER 600 people turned out to perform a lap of honour in memory of Andover Athletics Club coach Craig Evans.

Family, friends, athletes and fellow coaches walked around the club’s Charlton based track to pay tribute to Mr Evans, who passed away suddenly while jogging on New Year’s Eve.

The event, which took place on Monday night, was kicked off by a starting gun and followed by a minute silence and then a minute of applause.

This was ended with a whistle, to represent Mr Evans’ love of football.

Chairman of Andover Athletics Club, Mark Bradford, said: “It was amazing how many people turned up.

“Many of us on the night said how honoured he would have been by the whole thing.

“He was a larger than life character who got on well with people which is why I think so many came out to pay their tributes.”

In attendance on the night were Mr Evans’ wife and children, who lead the walk around the 400 metre track.

Mr Bradford added: “They were absolutely thrilled by the turn out.

“They said afterwards how absolutely right it was to do something like this for Craig.”

The club are currently collecting card and letter tributes in a special box outside their club house.

All tributes will be passed on to Mr Evans’ family

Holly wins two South of England Titles for 2nd Successive Year

Andover AC’s talented U17 athlete Holly Mills was in record breaking form at last weekend’s South of England Indoor Championships held at Lee Valley Athletics Centre. Going into the Championships Holly was one of the favourites to win a title having completed the Long Jump and 60m Hurdles double last year.

On Day One Holly was in action in her main event, the Long Jump and went into the competition ranked No1 in the UK in the U17 age group. Holly had also recently received the accolade of being the youngest person to be listed in the 2015 end of season Athletics Weekly Merit Rankings, where she was ranked 7th female overall, one place behind Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Despite having had limited jumps training over the winter Holly stamped her authority on the event from round one with an opening leap of 6.07m. Three further jumps over 6m secured Holly the title for the 2nd year running ahead of the 2nd placed athlete who jumped 5.19m. Holly’s best leap of 6.12m also broke the Championship Record of 5.97m that had stood since 1995.

Holly was back in action on Day Two in the 60m hurdles and having comfortably cruised through her heat in a time of 8.77secs she was in confident mood going into the semi-final. She was targeting the Championship Record of 8.58 that had stood since 2004 and was not to be disappointed as she stopped the clock at 8.52secs to take her place in the final. In the final another fast time of 8.59secs saw Holly crowned Champion for the 2nd successive year. Her semi final time is also the 4th fastest of all time for U17W just 0.03sec off the quickest ever.

Also in action at the Championships were 2 other U17W athletes from Coach James Coney’s sprints group. Darcie Henderson was firstly action in the 60m where she progressed to the semi finals with a time of 8.11secs in finishing 2nd in her heat. Despite equalling her PB of 8.04secs in finishing 3rd in her semi final this was not enough to take her through to the final. Jasmine McClutchie joined Darcie in competing in the 200m with both girls producing indoor PB’s in their heats, Darcie clocking 26.36secs and Jasmine 26.44secs. However, neither was able to improve on these times in the semi finals to miss out on a place in the final.

The performances of all three athletes are encouraging at an early stage of what will hopefully be a successful 2016 season.

Craig Evans

 

It is with great sadness that Andover Athletic Club announces the untimely passing of one of its most beloved and enthusiastic coaches, Craig Evans.

Craig passed away unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve morning whilst out running. A dedicated athlete, he donned his running shoes and went out to do what he loved, and sadly did not return.

We have all lost a great friend, mentor and coach, his family much more. Our thoughts and hearts are with his family at this extremely difficult time.

Craig was one of the most vibrant and inspiring individuals to have ever graced our club. As a coach he had great empathy of those athletes he nurtured, so many of whom benefited from his ability to encourage and motivate them to achieve their goals. As a friend we have lost one of the most kind hearted, jovial characters’ you could ever have wished to have known. Craig was a free spirit, one of life’s good guys who touched the lives of so many. His passing leaves emptiness in all our hearts, but we will always remember him with great love and affection.

In remembrance of our dear friend Andover Athletic Club will hold a lap of honour around the track at Charlton Sports Centre on Monday 11th January at 7.30pm. To be followed by a minute’s silence then applause in celebration of Craig’s life. This event is not exclusive to Club members; we welcome anyone and everyone who wishes to join us. We kindly ask that you assemble at the track entrance gate in good time.

From Wednesday 6th January there will be a box placed in the Clubhouse foyer where you can deposit cards/letters of condolence which the Club will forward to Craig’s family. In due course a ‘Book of Remembrance’ will also appear in the foyer, which we encourage you all to write in – share your memories of Craig. In turn we will present this to Craig’s family.

 As an everlasting tribute to one of the greatest ever servants of Andover Athletic Club, the Club will rename its annual Club Championships’ the ‘Craig Evans Memorial Club Championships’’ effective from March 2016.  Craig was an ardent supporter, and participant of this fun event, which sat well with his fun loving nature and genuine desire to see others succeed. The Club feels this is a fitting tribute to one of its most loved members.

We will remember him.

London Marathon Club Entry

Any Club Member over the age of 18 who wishes to be considered for a Club Entry to 2016 London Marathon should complete the form HERE

The draw will take place at the beginning of December.

Lordshill 10

Hampshire Road Race League Match 3
Lordshill 10

On Sunday the Lordshill 10 Mile Road Race, organised by Lordshill Road Runners, took place around the lanes and streets of Nursling, Hillyfields, Lee and the Broadlands Estate in Southampton. This popular local race caters for up to 550 male/female participants between 16 to 80+ years of age.

Five Andover athletes competed, first home being in form Chris Dewey, determined to break the 60 minute barrier he did so in style, notching a 1 minute PB to finish 44th in 59:22 and 9th Male Vet 40. Close behind was Archie McKellar, finishing 62nd in 61:52 and taking 3rd male under 20 prize. Returning to past form was Rob Cliffe who finished 70th in 62:41 and 6th Male vet 50. Rounding up the mens A team was Steve Brett in 77th place in 63:09. Club evergreen Kelvin Mason had a solid run and was pleased with his 77:53 in 311th place and 9th male vet 60.

The next race in the league is the Gosport half marathon on the 15th November.