Presentation Evening

Help required!

Andover Athletic Club desperately needs some more volunteers!

Please speak to one of the coaches or come along to our AGM on Thursday 13 October at 7:45 in the Clubhouse at Charlton to find out more about what we do and how you could support the club.

We know people are busy – please don’t be put off even if you can only offer a small amount of your time.

The 401 Challenge

Ben Smith with Jean Taylor

The car park outside the club house was heaving on Thursday morning. Everyone was preparing to run. It was just like the start of any road race. People had come from far and wide to run at Andover to run with Ben Smith on his 395th marathon on the 395th day.

This was the second time Ben (and followers) came to Andover to run the marathon route of two laps planned out and sign posted by Jean Taylor, the Club’s Endurance Coach.

It was great to see so many people all wishing to run all or part of the route with Ben. When they started off it was like watching the Pied Piper leading everyone off.

A new challenge has been set up for all runners:

The Marathon 401 Virtual Challenge

Join in the fun and celebrate Ben’s final marathon by running with him virtually anywhere in the world. Sign up and pay £26.20, with 100% of your payment being donated to charity. Run either a marathon, half marathon or 10k anytime between Sunday 2nd October and Sunday 9th October to get yourself a Marathon 401 medal.

Can’t run that distance in one go? You can spread it throughout the week.

Annual General Meeting

Notice of AGM

Thursday 13 October 2016

7.45 pm


Critical posts are vacant including Chair and Welfare Officer. If you are able to support or join the committee please speak to Mark Bradford or the Kelvin Mason who can give you further details of what is involved.

There are also vacancies for general committee members to help with the running of the club. If interested, please add you name to


401 Challenge

On Thursday, 29th September 2016 Ben Smith will once again be in Andover as part of his 401 Challenge. He is attempting to run 401 marathons in 401 consecutive days. Andover will see marathon number 395. Ben ran marathon number 66 in Andover back in November of last year.

The 401 Challenge is being undertaken to raise money for and awareness of anti bullying initiatives. Text BEN to 70660 to donate £5. The gol is £250,000.

It can be pretty lonely running solo for the Challenge so Ben loves to have people join him on the run. A couple of miles of companionship can make all the difference. You don’t have to be speedy either – Ben will run at the pace of the slowest.

The course around Andover is very pleasant taking in footpaths, country lanes and parks as well as industrial and residential areas. It is a two loop course which is easily accessed from the town so it is possible to join in or drop out more or less anywhere.

If you cannot run with Ben then please come to see him off at about 10.00 am outside the Andover Athletic Club in Charlton Park (West Portway end).

For more details go to:



Hampshire Road Race League begins again next month (September). The first race is Overton 5. This is a good opener being within easy reach and in the afternoon.

This year’s race has a new course which we are told is faster than the old. It’s bound to be because it doesn’t have those awful hills!

Let’s have a good turnout from Andover AC to get off to a super start in the league tables. Get your entry in soon as it’s filling up fast.

Don’t forget you will need to run in FULL Andover kit: blue and white striped vest and RED shorts (or longs).

For a full list of the league races see the Events Calendar.

European Youth Champion

Andover AC’s Holly Mills has become the first Andover athlete and also British athlete to be crowned European Athletics Youth Long Jump Champion at the inaugural Championships held in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Team GB had sent a strong team to Tbilisi with many of the athletes ranked in the top 5 in Europe so to even make the team was a huge achievement for Holly. With several girls ranked above her in Europe Holly knew that competition was going to be strong so her first target was to make it through the qualifying round and into the final. With 25 athletes competing the girls were split into 2 qualifying groups with the top 12 progressing to the final.

Although the morning temperature was reaching 32* there was a blustery breeze that was making conditions challenging for the athletes but Holly opened with a jump of 6.07m to take the lead in her group and followed this with a jump of 6.12m. Although her final jump was a foul her previous jumps were good enough to win her group and progress to the final.

Speaking after the Qualifying Round, Holly, who won bronze at the recent British Championships said “I’m so happy – I wanted to jump further and get automatic qualifying (6.20m), but it was a case of getting used to the runway as its so fast.”

“My last jump was big, but a no jump, so I will have to save that for the final, from my original marker, I’ve already gone back six or seven pigeon steps, which is a lot, so I may have to go back a few more for the final,” Holly explained.

The final took place the following day and the temperature in the stadium was 38* come competition time. However, like the previous day there was a blustery breeze but this time much stronger with the athletes running into a headwind.

Unfazed by the strong headwinds ranging from -1.2m/s to -6.5m/s, Holly showed her composure producing an impressive series of jumps. After two rounds of jumps Holly was lying in second place just 2cm behind the leading jump of 6.08m. However, she produced what turned out to be the winning jump in round 3 with a leap of 6.19m to take the lead at the halfway stage of the competition. At this point the final was reduced to the top 8 athletes who would get 3 further jumps with the leader jumping last in each round.

In round 4 Holly produced another 6m+ jump with what would prove to be a crucial leap of 6.09m. There were no changes to the leaderboard in round 5 so the title would be decided with the last 8 jumps in round 6. There were some nervy moments for Holly when the favourite for the competition, Maja Bedrac of Slovenia matched Holly’s jump of 6.19m with her final jump, but consistency won on the day with Holly’s second best jump of 6.09m two centimetres better than her Slovenian counterpart.

Holly said: “I’m so happy, I can’t even explain it. I came in ranked third and I can’t believe I ended up coming away with the gold medal.

“On my practice jumps it wasn’t going right (with the headwind), but when I jumped the 6.19m, I felt safe and knew I could go for it. When the Slovenian (Bedrac) had her last jump, I was so nervous then but luckily on countback I got it by a few centimetres.

“I feel like a changed athlete, it’s my first time abroad and I feel like a proper athlete now. Having now won that medal I feel a really big part of the British team.”

“I would also like to say a massive thanks to BDZ Holdings Ltd and their MD Bob Rae for their continued support that enabled my parents and sister Abbie, plus my coach James Coney to travel to Tbilisi to support me.”

Coach James Coney said; “Despite challenging conditions Holly showed why she was one of the first names on the Great Britain team sheet demonstrating total professionalism throughout. From the first round it was evident that the competition wasn’t going to be won with a big jump as most of the girls were well below their seasons bests due to the extreme heat and strong head winds, Holly seemed unfazed by this and simply did what she has done all season, jump well round after round. Her consistency was what won on the day and it reminded me of current World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth Champion, Greg Rutherford. “

“Having coached Holly from primary school to a full GB international it was very emotional to see her stood on the podium with the national anthem playing in the background. This competition has shown that Holly has the ability to compete at the international stage and start to be considered as world class.”

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.