Cross-Country runners get British Masters off to a golden start.
In an unseasonal cold 20°, runners from over 90 countries stretched their flight-weary legs over 8km of flat Perry Lakes Parkland on Wednesday 26 October on the first day of the World Masters Athletics Track & Field Championships in Perth. We had only to wait 34 minutes before prolific Cheltenham M70 racer Martin Ford crossed the line third for the individual bronze medal and lead the team of Anthony Blackstone 6th and John Oldfield l0th to team silver. But I wonder if even he realised the significance of the two Australians who finished in front of him? Not only were they the same guys who finished 1st and 2nd at the last WMA Championships; but Jim Langford, silver medallist here, had defeated the great Ron Clarke for the Australian Championships over this very same course back in 1965 and was coached by the extraordinarily John Gilmore. Gilmore is now into his 98th year and was there to see the young boy that he had nurtured from a small Western Australian club go on to be involved in lifelong athletic and win the M70 team gold over this familiar course.
The spectators-friendly 4 x 2km switch back course added to the excitement as some races were won by split seconds. Experienced international Lucy Elliott did not panic when New Zealand’s World Mountain Running champion, Sally Gibbs had built up a one minute lead in the W50 field by the second circuit. Lucy, who has British and the Masters International titles to her credit, gradually reeled the Kiwi back outsprinting her in the last 15m to win 29.39.48sec to 29.39.67sec. Another Kiwi to make a bold bid for glory was M60 Tony Price who led all the way until the final straight when Alan Gower gritted his teeth and came storming by to win. John Skelton and David Oxland made it a 1, 2 and M60 team gold.
The host nation dominated the team results as expected but Masters athletics is very popular in Oceania and the Western Australian club is one of their strongest, they were out in force. For many it was their first taste of top international competition as the Europeans still came through in the younger categories. Poland took the M35 title with the first three all finishing inside 26 minutes. A great run by the Spaniard Martin De La Fuente ensured an M40 victory and the M45 race was won by an Argentinian.
British team medals:
W50 1st Lucy Elliott, Susan Ridley, Jackie Newton
W55 3rd Diane Farmer, Caroline Lawless, Fiona Bishop.
W60 3rd Janice Needham, Janet Fellows. Susan Boyman
W65 Janette Stevenson, Ros Tabor, Penny Forse.
W70 2nd Pauline Rich, Lesley Bowcott, Betty Stacey.
M40 2nd Gary Grant, Iain Williams, Jonathan Storey.
M50 2nd Paul Thompson, Simon Anderson, Bashir Hussain.
M55 2nd Stephen Smith, Steve Doxey, Colin Feechan.
M60 3rd Paul Thompson, Graham Webster, David Proffitt.
M65 1st John Skelton, David Oxland, Alex Sutherland.
A European Best Female Athlete of the Year winner, Irie Hill retained her W45 World pole vault title clearing 3.65m. Stephen Whyte also struck gold in the M50 Weigh Throw. W45 Sue Lawrence bagged her first gold of the Championships with a hammer throw of 39.04m. Sue Yeoman and Sue Dassie took top place on the W60 pole vault podium and Will Norbet won the M80 5km walk, all on Day 1 of the Championships. The daily results are tracked on the BMAF home page - Live news section