Bedford athletes strike gold in National Championships

Gracie Wall receives her National Indoor gold medal (Image: Bedford and County Athletics Club)

Bedford and County Athletic Club’s promising young high jumper, Gracie Wall, added another national title to her collection at the England Athletics Under 15 Championships in Sheffield at the weekend.

Gracie, who is coached at the Bedford club by Barry Johnson, went into the championships atop the 2020 national rankings, having leapt higher than any other under 15 girl so far this year.

Her jump of 1 metre 62 centimetres claimed victory against nineteen competitors who had travelled from as far afield as Glasgow, Cardiff and Norwich for a shot at the national gold.

Gracie was last year’s English Schools champion, and her indoor success during the winter should give her confidence as she prepares for the summer season.

Another promising Bedford and County teenager, 17 year-old Raphael Bouju, won a silver medal at the Dutch Indoor Championships in the 60m sprint.

His time of 6.70 was not only a personal best, but also a Dutch under 20 record. Coming hot on the heels of a second place in the British Championships the previous weekend, this is a performance that confirms Raphael’s potential.

Raphael was happy with the medal and time but knew he made some mistakes that meant he missed out on a better time. He is now looking forward to relay training in Florida with the Netherlands Seniors relay team and going to the World Junior Championships in Nairobi this July.

Meanwhile, in a muddy and windy Nottingham, over forty athletes from Bedford and County competed in the prestigious National Cross-Country Championships at Wollaton Park, where Bedford’s Senior Men’s squad boasted 6 former and current internationals.

Hopes were high of a medal, but lady luck was not on the Bedford club’s side. First, 2:17 marathon runner Aaron Scott was forced to pull up with an injury, and then internationals Matt Bergin and Josh Lunn had to limp out with a twisted ankle and a calf strain respectively.

British Universities international, Dan Jarvis, however, had a magnificent race to finish 6th in a field of over 1,700 runners, and Jack Goodwin can also be very pleased with his 26th place finish. Despite these setbacks, Bedford still managed fourth place, and were only five points behind the bronze medallists.

This was not the only, ‘what if’ of the day.

Due to injuries and absences, Bedford’s Under 20 Men’s squad were somewhat weaker than usual this season, but they also managed to place fourth. James Minter had an exceptional run for an excellent 22nd place, and was ably assisted by Harry Brodie, who bravely competed despite an injury to finish 56th, Alfie Yabsley in 64th, and Richard Laursen, who earned 122nd place, despite having both shoes sucked off by the mud early in the race.

In the younger age groups, the individual highlights were Cameron Barnes’ excellent fifth place in the Under 13 Boys race, and Noah Campion’s 27th place in the Under 15 Boys race.  In the team events, the successful under 13 Girls team of Rosie Foster (17th), Milly Dunger (29th), Lyla Danobrega (36th), and Lucy Deller (176th) finished a very creditable 8th.

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