Two young middle-distance runners have been selected as the winners of the 2015 Daniel Sacks Awards for Outstanding Young Athletic Achievement.
The Girls’ Award winner is Maayan Radus, 11. Until recently Radus was a member of Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers, but she is now coached by Phillip Kissi as part of the City of London School for Girls running group. Radus was undefeated in the five cross-country races she ran as an Under 11, which included winning the Hertfordshire County Championship. Competing with distinction over 1500m on the track, she took the U13 Middlesex title with a 15 seconds personal best of 5:09.80. Radus was still just 10 years old at the time. Earlier this month Radus led her school to victory in the English Schools Cross Country Cup. "I now know who are the top runners of my age in the country, so my aim is to be up with them next season," Radus declared.
The Boys’ Award winner is Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier Judah Yawitch, now 13. Hasmonean pupil Yawitch began his year by placing fourth in the Hertfordshire U13 cross country Championship and fifth in the Middlesex Schools Championship. His achievements during the track season included two victories and three second places over 800m in the Eastern Young Athletes League, and best times of 2:21.8 for 800m and 4:51.04 for 1500m. Yawitch said, "I was pleased to keep improving throughout the season, for which I would like to thank Tony Smith, my very supportive coach."
Several other athletes within the community also gained significant titles and medals during 2015.
Eden Davis became the first Jewish athlete for several years to medal in the English Schools Championships, taking bronze in the intermediate 100m. In winning the Bedford International Games 100m in 10.76, Davis lowered a competition record that had stood for nine years. He placed second in the event in the U17 South of England Championships, and took 200m gold and 100m silver in the Hertfordshire Championships.
Pole vaulter Sophie Dowson steadily raised her personal best to 3.62m to rank sixth among the UK Under 17's. Dowson won the South of England U20 title at 3.60m and scaled the same height to place fifth in the England Athletics U20 Championship, placing second amongst the U17 competitors. Dowson placed fourth in the English Schools Championship despite illness preventing training in the week beforehand.
Dowson and fellow vaulter George Grant both took gold medals at the Middlesex Championships. Anna Barnett was another fine field event competitor, winning discus gold and shot-put bronze in the Kent U17 Schools competition. Barnett also placed second in both the shot and discus in the Kent County Championships.
David Stone,13, made a remarkable comeback from a year sidelined with knee problems to win the U13 London Mini Marathon Borough Challenge. He took the Hertfordshire U15 3000m title and won a National U15 Road Relay gold medal as a member of the victorious Shaftesbury Barnet team.
Lia Radus, older sister of Maayan, gained two victories in the Metropolitan Cross Country League and finished third in the Middlesex County Championship. She placed second in the U13 London Mini Marathon Borough Challenge just one second behind the winner, while on the track she took silver in the Middlesex U15 1500m Championship.
The Cheshire and Greater Manchester Championships proved to be a family affair for sisters Ellie, Allana and Orli Edwards. Former Maccabia gold medallist Ellie took the U20 100m title while Allana took bronze in the U17 300m hurdles and Orli secured silver in the U13 javelin. Ellie also gained an English Schools Championship relay gold, as well as several League victories.
The Hertfordshire Championships likewise provided a rich medal haul for Colette Hurley and her children Rebecca, Jessica and Greg. Colette and Jessica each won their age group 300m titles, with Jessica also taking a second gold in the U17 400m. Rebecca took U20 silver in the 400m hurdles while Greg gained bronze in the U15 300m.
Other athletes deserving recognition are Rachel Ayrton, Middlesex Schools silver medallist in the U17 800m and Matti Harris, Hertfordshire Schools silver medallist in the U13 1500m. Brothers Jack and Ben Bloom, 14 and 12 respectively, Tal Pelmont, 15, Sophie Peters, 14, and Phillip Benson, 23, all raced consistently well over the middle distances.
At age 76, Roger Bruck continued to defy both age and gravity. His medal tally of three golds and three silvers in UK Indoor and Outdoor Masters Championships included outdoor golds in both the high jump and long jump.
St Mary’s University student Richard Goodman began the new cross country season this October with five straight victories. Goodman gained selection for the European Under 23 Cross Country Championship in Hyeres, France, where he ran an excellent race to help Great Britain secure team silver medals. Having learned by experience the dangers of overtraining, Goodman is hoping in the new year for the track breakthrough that will ultimately secure his regular place in the national senior team.
Natan Bloom, 17, jumped straight to the top of the UK Under 20 10K rankings in the Serpentine New Year’s Day 10K in Hyde Park. Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier Bloom recorded 34:29.9 to place ninth overall.
James Bongart made a successful return after one year out of the sport, winning the Walthamstow Christmas Throws javelin competition with a mark of 51.15m.
Richard Goodman gave a solid performance for Team GB in the Great Edinburgh Cross Country 8K, the event that generated the rare headline "Mo Farah beaten". The race took place in cold and wet conditions in the spectacular setting of the hills of Holyroood Park. A succession of earlier races had turned the course into a mud bath. Goodman finished 19th, 57 seconds behind American winner Garrett Heath, as GB won the team competition ahead of USA and Europe. Farah placed second, two seconds adrift of Heath.
“I actually ran against Mo in the same race five years ago, with a similar result," Goodman said. "Like some of my teammates, I went off a bit too quickly at the beginning, enjoying the presence of the television cameras covering the “Mo Show”. I struggled with fatigue over the last lap, by which time the course was really muddy, and I lost a few more places. But it was a real tough race, so I was satisfied to put in a strong performance.”
Sisters Maayan and Lia Radus returned from the Middlesex cross country championships with a medal apiece. Maayan, 11, took Under 13 gold while Lia, 14, placed second in the Under 15 race.
“The Wormwood Scrubs course was flat but very muddy”, Lia reported.
“I got one of my best ever starts," Maayan said. “I slipped in behind the girl who eventually came second and moved alongside her just before half way. Once we hit the half way point I ran as hard as I could”. This surge brought her home 20 seconds clear of the field.
Bini Bloom, 12, won the Years 8&9 title in the Barnet Schools cross country championships. His brother Jack, 14, placed third in the Years 10&11 race and was the first Year 10 finisher.
Richard Goodman gained a 45 seconds victory in the Metropolitan Cross Country League at Perivale. Having now won the three league races that he has contested, a win in the final race next month should bring him the overall series victory.
Phillip Benson won the Armada Athletic Network 3K race in Plymouth in 10:04. It was one of four races that Benson ran in the space of a week before returning to his medical studies in Bulgaria.
Young sprinters Ellie Edwards, 19, and Eden Davis, 16, have each set indoor PBs that raise them high in their age group national rankings. Edwards, representing Birmingham University in an Inter Varsity Meeting, posted times of 7.89 for 60m and 26.28 for 200m. Herts Phoenix athlete Davis recorded 22.71 for third place in the 200m London Under 20 Games, losing out to older rivals. Both meetings took place at Lee Valley.
Maayan Radus, competing for City of London Girls School, was narrowly beaten into second place in the Year 7 London Schools Cross Country Championships at Wormwood Scrubs. Sophie Peters was top scorer for Harrow AC in placing fourth in the Under 15 race in the North West London Young Athletes’ League at Harrow.
Roger Bruck set a Southern Counties M75 high jump record of 1.22m in the British Masters Athletic Federation Pentathlon Championships at Lee Valley. The performance places Bruck top of the current UK age group rankings and third in the All Time list.
February 26 (unpublished, carried over to following week)
Ellie Edwards, 19, set a 60m personal best of 7.82 in winning her heat at the British Universities Indoor Championships in Sheffield. Roger Bruck took the M75 high jump, long jump and 200m titles in the Southern Counties Veterans AC Championships at Lee Valley.
Roger Bruck improved his own Southern Counties M75 high jump record to 1.23m at the Inter-Area Competition at Lee Valley. Bruck was also a member of the winning M70 4x200m relay squad and his efforts helped Southern Counties to win the seven sided competition outright. The previous week, Bruck had taken the M75 high jump, long jump and 200m Southern indoor titles.
Sisters Lia and Maayan Radus both placed within the top ten percent of finishers in their respective races in the English National Cross Country Championships at Castle Donington, Leicestershire. Maayan, 11, finished 26th in the Under 13 event while Lia, 14, placed 36th in the Under 15 race. Both sisters are pupils at City of London School for Girls, and compete for Blackheath & Bromley AC.
Ellie Edwards, 19, set a 60m personal best of 7.82 in winning her heat at the British Universities Indoor Championships in Sheffield.
Roger Bruck, 76, brought his indoor season to a successful conclusion with four victories in the British Masters National Finals at Lee Valley. Barnet & District all-rounder Bruck took the M75 60m, 200m, high jump and long jump titles, raising his own Southern Counties M75 high jump record to 1.24m in the process. Bruck, who only took up jumping in his mid-fifties, tops the M75 high jump national rankings and stands second in his other three contested events.
Lucie Wolfenden, 14, set a pole vault PB of 2.54m competing for Sale Harriers in her club’s Open Meeting at Sportcity. This performance places her 10th in the UK U15 list.
In his first ever race over the distance, David Stone, 14, took the Under 16 trophy in the Jerusalem 10K, finishing 68 seconds ahead of the 531-strong field. His time of 37:53 for the hilly and demanding road course placed him 10th out of 7364 overall.
"I entered this race because of the London Mini-Marathon clashing with Pesach this year”, Stone said. “It was a wonderful experience, passing through historic sites such as the Jaffa Gate, Mamilla and Machane Yehuda. I ran in aid of the Duchenne Research Fund, as I have a lifelong friend who has the condition.”
"The start was very crowded, but I did not suffer any jostling. In fact, much of the race I was running on my own. For most of the course, I was running either uphill or downhill; there was very little running on the flat, and some of the inclines were quite steep. It was warm, but still comfortable for running. I wasn't sure where the finish was, and one runner sprinted past knowing that we were at the finish although I still thought there was 100m to go.”
“There is a ceremony in Tel Aviv next week to present the Under-16 trophy, which I obviously cannot make. But they did present me with a victory bouquet on the podium!”
You can sponsor David for the Duchenne Research Fund, at https://www.justgiving.com/david-stone2016/
Richard Goodman produced a storming run to help Shaftesbury Barnet win the 12-stage Southern Road Relays at Gravesend, Kent. Running Stage 7 against 37 other teams, Goodman transformed a 22 second deficit into a 39 second lead, which Shaftesbury never lost. Goodman's time of 18:59 for the 7.2 km "long” stage was fourth fastest out of 230 times posted on the day.
Yavneh College pupil Matti Harris, 13, recorded a personal best of 18:50 to finish sixth in the Hampstead Heath Parkrun.
One recent Monday evening I visited the Allianz Stadium, Hendon, to watch a group of young athletes in training. They were members of Maccabi London Harriers (MLH) and I was there at the invitation of their Head Coach Murray Ayrton. It is largely through Ayrton's vision and hard work that MLH came into being in September last year. His aim is that the club will help develop the next generation of GB Maccabia athletes.
The session that I attended took place at the indoor track underneath the stadium’s East Stand. A display near the entrance of this world class facility records that the track was moved from the Olympic Stadium, where it used for the warm-up area for the 2012 Olympics. The wall running down the length of the track is decorated with framed posters of every modern Olympiad, in chronological order.
MLH currently caters for three age groups: Under 11, Under 13 and Under 15. The only entrance requirement is a willingness to try out the sport. During the session that I attended, the young athletes were preparing for an indoor pentathlon competition. They were split into three groups, each of six to eight young athletes. Murray was teaching the elements of hurdling while his daughter Rachel was guiding a group of long jumpers. A little further down the track youngsters were trying the high jump under the guidance of coaches Steve Norris and Sara Black. Each group listened attentively to the technical guidance given by their coaches before each round of practice.
Most of the athletes were kitted out in their stylish dark blue club colours. They were not by any means elite performers; they encompassed a broad range of natural abilities. But they were giving each other help and encouragement as they tried out each new athletic discipline. Every long jumper ran down towards the sandpit to the accompaniment of the rhythmic clapping of the others in the group. The hurdlers practised over expanded polystyrene barriers, and picked themselves up smiling if they stumbled onto the soft and forgiving track. The high jumpers practised simply jumping onto the air bed, before attempting to clear a rope or a bar.
I have followed athletics at this same stadium for 50 years, ever since I ran in the 1966 Barnet Schools Championships. But never have I seen a session that the athletes so clearly thoroughly enjoyed.
The athletes contested their pentathlon at Lee Valley last Sunday, and Murray expressed his delight: “As Head Coach of MLH, I could not be prouder of all our athletes. What an incredible end to the indoor season - eight athletes, thirty PBs and fifteen club records – with every athlete contributing to these numbers. Now for the outdoor season!”
Blackheath & Bromley field event specialist Anna Barnett, 16, moved straight to 10th in the UK Under 20 discus rankings with a throw of 33.40 m at Tooting. Maccabi London Harrier Joel Alexander, 14, set a personal best high jump of 1.45 m, placing fourth against seniors in the Lee Valley Open.
James Bongart (Woodford Green and Essex Ladies AC) took javelin victory in the Southern Athletics League at St Albans with his longest throw for two years, 52.58 m.
Ellie Edwards travelled with a Birmingham University team to Ithaca, USA to take on American universities in the Cornell April Cabin Fever Invitational. Edwards won the 200 m with an indoor PB of 26.05.
Pole vaulter Sophie Dowson, 17, cleared 3.75m in the Youth Development League at Eton to improve her best by 13 cm. Dowson, who now competes for Blackheath & Bromley AC, placed second to Jessica Robinson, the UK’s leading young vaulter. Dowson’s new PB moves her to 6th in the UK U20 rankings.
Sale Harriers vaulter Lucy Wolfenden, 14, also entered the national rankings, clearing a personal best height of 2.60m to win the Youth Development League match at Spinkhill, Derbyshire.
Jamie Bongart threw the javelin 54.31m for eighth place in the British Universities Championships at Bedford. The performance also places Bongart eighth in the UK U23 standings. Ellie Edwards, 19, ran a personal best of 12.41 to reach the 100m semi-finals.
Lia Radus, 14, set 300m and 800m bests of 47.88 and 2:20.98 respectively in the Mile End Open, winning her heat in both events.
David Stone, 14, won the 1500m in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Stevenage in a time of 4:40.4.
Brothers Jack and Bini Bloom both gained 800m PBs at the Watford Open Graded Meeting. Jack, 15, was timed at 2:14.73 while Bini, 12, recorded 2:26.01. Aidan Raphael, 16, recorded 57.21 for 400 m.
Three Blackheath & Bromley athletes took medals in last weekend's county championships. Lia Radus, 14, won gold in the Middlesex U15 1500m event at Lee Valley, recording 4:55.72. The previous week she had set a PB of 4:50.7 with victory in the Kent Young Athletes' League. Anna Barnett, 17, took silver in the Kent U20 discus championship at Ashford, with a throw of 33.55m. To complete the set, Lia's sister Maayan Radus, 11, took bronze in the Middlesex U13 1500m event in a time of 5:12.02.
Richard Goodman ran step for step with one of the world’s greatest runners to finish as top Briton in the Manchester Great Run. Goodman finished sixth overall in 29:57 as three times Olympic gold medallist Kenenisa Bekele beat 2014 London Marathon winner Wilson Kipsang to the tape. Around 35,000 runners completed the event, Europe’s largest 10 km race.
Aiming to stay with the leaders for as long as he could, Goodman passed the 5 km mark in 14:27, close to his track PB for the distance. "I had given so much in the first half of the race that I could not hang on at the same speed,” Goodman said. "But I was pleased to finish strongly as I did, and it was a really good run for me. Running side by side with the world's fastest man over five and ten kilometers was an absolute privilege. Experiences like that are part and parcel of why I love running."