Jersey have produced the odd good middle-distance runner over the years. Pre-eminent amongst them are Colin Campbell and Mike Guegan. (The former still holds the Island record for every distance from 200m to the mile.) There was a little cluster of good performers in the early 80s but in recent times they’ve been hard to spot.
All that is changing with the present Spartans training group. Under Paul Raimbault and Grant Stenhouse, together with a growing number of assistant coaches, a critical mass of young runners is resulting in some excellent performances. Year on year our young Spartans are turning in better performances at county and now at national level.
As Aldershot, Farnham & District have shown in recent years there is no magic bullet, no secret ingredient, to producing good runners. First of all you need dedicated coaches who know what they’re doing and who are willing to put the work in. Then the runners will come in increasing numbers; a few will have success and those few raise the bar for others to emulate. Guernsey have done this well for years but the signs are that the tables are, at last, being turned.
On Thursday they held 800m time trials to see how the athletes were faring after their winter’s work. With some estimation of previous PBs almost all the runners set new marks which has got to be good news ahead of the new CI Championships in a couple of weeks time, and the county championships after that. The times were – Elliot Dorey 2.00, Toby Edwards & Aaron Turmel 2.04, Chloe Turmel 2.20, Philip Maguire & Jack Peggie 2.23, Gemma Gothard 2.30, Sam Brown 2.32, Jack Leerson, Alice Bain & Brooke Lidster 2.33, Will Brown 2.36, Catherine Billington & Catherine Heavan 2.39, Yasmin Lookess 2.38, Sam Maher 2.42, Kane Hendrie & Florence Gothard 2.46, David Raimbault & Oliver Turner 2.47, Todd Buesnel 2.48. (I didn’t enter but I reckon 3.30-ish?)
The other cluster of excellence and one that is totally ignored are the throwers. Quite why there are so few taking the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Lauren, Jamie, Zane, Kathryn & Shadine I’m not sure. Top GB coach John Hillier is over on a regular basis and is a free resource for both athletes and coaches. Why are people not flocking to get involved? This week John has brought Zane’s training partner Lawrence Okoye over for a spot of warm-weather training. Lawrence was going nowhere until Zane got him involved with John. On Tuesday, amongst many throws that crashed into the cage, Lawrence nailed one down the middle throwing the senior 2kg discus (Lawrence,like Zane, is still an U20.) Unusually John had it measured – it had left a nice mark. 64 metres, topping Brett Morse’s GB senior best in 2010. I’m looking forward to seeing what Lawrence produces in competition this summer.