Jewish Athletics 2014: Text Versions January to May

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January 3: Daniel Sacks Awards and Annual Roundup

The JC can now announce that the winners of the 2013 Daniel Sacks Memorial Awards for Outstanding Young Athletic Achievement are David Stone, 11, and Jessica Hurley, 14. Both are members of Shaftesbury Barnet Athletics Club.

David Stone started his athletic career in dramatic fashion while still in primary school. He won his first competitive races, the Hertfordshire Under 11 cross country championships and the Barnet Schools Under 13 cross country championships, by large margins.

He then suffered the setback of a three months' lay-off following a toboggan accident. He resumed competition with his first track race in July, and that month recorded 4:42.34 for 1500m, ranking him 11th among UK Under 13's. A week later he ran his first 800m event, and recorded 2:22.7 for 65th in his age group.

In road relay races following the end of the track season, Stone consistently recorded the fastest relay splits of the competition, and ended the season unbeaten over any terrain, at any distance above 200 metres. In reviewing his first year in the sport, Stone simply said, “I knew I loved running, but I was a little surprised at how well I performed in races".

Jessica Hurley again enjoyed a successful season giving great service to her club. Competing eleven times over 800m, her fastest performance was 2:23.04 in placing second at the Hertfordshire County Under 15 championships. She also demonstrated her versatility at other distances and in the field events. She recorded a match-winning 43.74 for 300m in the Eastern Young Athletes League, to rank 70th among UK Under 15’s, as well as 5:07.0 for 1500m and 4.54m in the long jump.

Hurley reflected, “I was pleased with my year because I kept cutting my 800m time and I also learned I had speed when my club put me in for a 300m race. I’m still an Under 15 next season and my ambition is to make it to the England Schools Finals.”

It has been a year of solid achievement by several other young athletes. Another outstanding talent to emerge is Lia Radus, 12. In her first competitive year, she won several events in the Eastern Young Athletes League, and recorded 2:36.3 for 800m and 5:11.0 for 1500m, ranking her 54th in the UK Under 13 age group. Radus also recorded a remarkable 19:39 for a 5 km parkrun.

Pole vaulter George Grant, 15, raised his personal best regularly as the year progressed, reaching a height of 3.51m in September to rank 36th in the UK Under 17 division.

Jamie Cohen, 14, continued his progress in both middle-distance events and the high jump, in which he raised his best to 1.63m. Cohen won 6 gold medals in the JCC Maccabi Games in Orange County, California. Anna Barnett, 14, was Kent County and Kent Schools discus champion and placed second in the Kent County Hammer Championships.

Natan Bloom, 15, cut his 800m and 1500m times to 2:09.49 and 4:24.55 respectively, while Rebecca Hurley placed 3rd in the Hertfordshire Schools 300m hurdles championship.

The year reached its highlight in July in the Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv. Three fine young sprinters were rewarded by winning junior relay bronze medals: Adam Muscat, Daniel Gubbay and Jack Reece. Speed-endurance athlete Aaron Spalter was unlucky to miss out due to injury. The fourth member of the relay squad was javelin thrower James Bongart, 17, who won the silver medal in his main event with a new personal best of 53.31m.

Two British athletes won junior gold medals in the Maccabiah: Ellie Edwards, 17, took gold in the 200m as well as bronze in the both the 100m and relay, while Sam Shindler-Glass took gold in the 800m and silver in the 1500m. Shindler-Glass had already cut his personal best for 800m by more than five seconds to 1:56.90.

Two British runners contested senior events in the Maccabiah. Triathlete Oliver Ziff finished a brave 7th in the 5000m, run in hot and sultry conditions. Nick Davis placed 7th in a top quality 400m final, in which Donald Sanford set an Israeli record to beat last year's Olympic finalist, Australian Steve Solomon. Unable to compete due to persisting injury, Richard Goodman served as Junior Track & Field Team Manager. Now fully recovered, Goodman won a team gold medal in the European Under 23 cross-country championships in December.

Jennifer Simmons enjoyed a successful season over 400m and 400m hurdles, ranking eighth in the UK Under 23 division and placing fifth in the British Universities Championships in the latter event.

Nathaniel Lane, a prolific competitor over the distance events, was again overall winner of the 12-race Run Wales series. Lane, 37, placed third in the Welsh 5000m track championship and won both the Welsh M35 10 km road title and the Welsh M35 Half Marathon title.

David Peters reinforced his position as one of the country’s top M40 middle-distance athletes by winning the British M40 Indoor 800m title. Peters ranked fourth and second respectively over 800m and 1500m outdoors.

Roger Bruck, the 74-year-old elder statesman of Jewish athletics, ran and jumped his way to new M70 personal bests and to several more gold medals, including five at the Southern Counties Veterans Championships. Those five performances secured for Bruck the Norman Martin Trophy for the Best Over 70 Performance of the Championships.

January 3: Roger Bruck, JC Legend

If one were looking for a living advertisement for the benefits of sport, one could find no better example than Roger Bruck. After a competitive career spanning more than half a century, Bruck is still winning trophies and gold medals at age 74. Earlier this month Bruck was presented with the Norman Martin Trophy for the Best Over 70 Performance in the Southern Counties Veterans Championships. The award was specifically for his high jump, yet that event was only one of five disciplines for which Bruck won gold medals on the single day of the Championships.

Bruck’s athletic career began in 1949 with a victory in the Hendon Primary Schools Championships. He only resumed competition in his final year at Grammar School, with victory in the Middlesex 100 yards championship in 1957. Then in 1959 Bruck joined Shaftesbury Harriers and that year won the first of 13 successive club sprint titles. Bruck represented Middlesex, Hertfordshire and Southern Counties during his senior career and held the Shaftesbury Harriers 100 yards and 100 metres club records.

Also in 1959, Bruck won his first European Maccabiah gold medal, in the 4x100m relay. Four years later at the next European Maccabiah, Bruck again won gold as part of the relay squad, and struck individual gold in the 100m and silver in the 200m.

Bruck’s first World Maccabiah, in 1961, turned him into a Zionist. “Seeing Jewish policemen and Hebrew road signs, and meeting Jews from all over the world, all gave me a love of Israel," he recalled. "In the 4x100m relay, USA were the overwhelming favourites. Their squad was trained by US Olympic team coach Payton Jordan and it included Gerry Ashworth, who set a world record that year. Against all odds GB won, in what was the most memorable race of my career.” Bruck served as GB Track & Field Manager in the Maccabiahs of 1993 and 1997, and on the latter occasion won another gold medal in the Coaches’ 100m race.

In 1979 Bruck joined Barnet and District Athletic Club and began his Masters career. In 1995 he was persuaded to try out the jump events in order to gain points for his club. His success was such that he went on to win nine national titles for long jump, high jump and pentathlon, and to represent GB in five World and European Masters Championships.

Bruck reflected, “I would recommend any youngster to try out athletics, and would advise him or her to join a club and get a coach. I have loved the camaraderie in the sport, and there are people I have been running with for fifty years. I train three or four times a week, and my sessions are built around short sprint repetitions with quick recovery intervals. I have been very lucky not to have suffered too many injuries in my career. But I couldn't have kept it up without all the support of my wife Judy. I went training on the morning of my wedding, but I think she has forgiven me by now. In August, we will have been married for fifty years."

January 10

Shaftesbury Barnet’s young distance runners braved last weekend's wind, rain and mud to take top positions in the Herts and Middlesex Cross Country Championships.

Maayan Radus, 9, displayed a tactical sense that belied her age to take victory in the Herts Under 11 race over 1500m at Watford. She reported, "The race went exactly as I had planned it. I made a strong push at the downhill section halfway around the course, and that left just four runners in the leading group. With about sixty metres to go I made my final sprint to the tape." Radus’ sister Lia, 12, came fourth in the Middlesex Under 13 race over 3000m at Wormwood Scrubs. She said, “A leading group of five of us had broken away from the field and we were together until 400 metres to go. I finished just eight seconds behind the winner." Earlier in the week, Radus had cut her personal best 800m time to 2:32.46 in the Lee Valley New Year Competition.

David Stone, 11, was narrowly beaten into second place in the Middlesex Under 13 race, finishing four seconds behind Jamie Harper, who is the fastest Under 13 runner in the country over 1500m.

Jessica Hurley, 14, came fourth in the Herts Under 15 race while her sister Rebecca, 15, placed ninth in the Under 17 division.

George Grant, 15, began the year with a personal best pole vault of 3.52m at the Metaswitch Games at Lee Valley.

January 24

George Grant, 15, added a massive 20 cm to his pole vault best by scaling 3.72m at the Vault London event in Carshalton. This moves him up to 10th in this year's UK Under 17 rankings.

January 31

Richard Goodman returned from a month's altitude training in Kenya to gain a resounding victory in the Southern Counties Senior Cross Country Championships at Parliament Hill. His performance also ensured that Shaftesbury Barnet won the team trophy.

Making light work of the hilly and muddy 15 km course, Goodman, a student at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, finished 150 m clear of defending champion Frank Tickner. Goodman said, “The race was run over the traditional three lap course that is sometimes used for the national championships. I kept to my plan of staying with the leaders for the first two laps and pushing ahead after that. As we were moving into the third lap I was feeling good and running well within myself, although there was now a problem of picking my way through lapped runners. I put on a small surge and found that I quickly built up a significant gap. Soon I realised that I was out on my own, and I really enjoyed the last part of the race as I put on some speed down the final hill. I’m really happy with how the race went, and it was ideal preparation for this weekend's British Universities Championships at Stirling”.

In other age group races in the championships, Lia Radus placed 49th in the Under 13 girls, Jessica Hurley was 131st in the Under 15 girls and Ben Hatch came 56th in the Under 17 boys.

February 7

Richard Goodman secured an emphatic win in the British Universities Cross Country Championships in Stirling, finishing 22 seconds clear of long-time rival Jonathan Hay. He also led St Mary's University College, Twickenham, to Team victory. Goodman’s win, following on from his equally commanding performance in the Southern Counties Championships the previous week, demonstrates that he is now in the form of his life.

The Stirling course consisted of one short lap and 3 long laps, totalling 11.1 km. Goodman said, “Although the route was muddy, it was fairly firm underfoot, and the race was fast. Each lap had three or four short steep hills, which made for a tough course. I kept to my recent strategy of gradually moving up to the front and then testing the leaders with around 3 km to go. Entering the last lap, Jonny Hay was still with me, but when I put on a hard surge he was not able to respond.”

Goodman's current form represents a reward for self-belief and perseverance in the face of injury and disappointment. In December 2011, a few months after leaving JFS, Goodman achieved his most significant international performance to date, gaining the silver medal in the European Junior Cross Country Championships. The performance won for Goodman a coveted athletics scholarship at Oregon University. However, recurring hip injuries led to that race turning out to be his last for 23 months, and to Oregon withdrawing their financial support. “It was particularly disheartening to participate in last summer’s Maccabiah as Junior Track Captain, but not to be fit enough to compete”, Goodman reflected.

Much has changed in Goodman’s life since the summer. He is now a Sports Science student at St Mary's, in daily contact with his new coach Mick Wood. He normally trains twice a day but includes a rest day in his weekly schedule, and he runs on grass or soft ground wherever possible. “The last six weeks, including my month at altitude in Kenya, has been the best block of training I have ever had,” he said.

Goodman has two further cross country races planned for this season: the National Championships at Nottingham in two weeks’ time, followed by the Inter-Counties at Birmingham in March. He said, ”I want to get the training miles under my belt and to stay injury-free, and I’m hoping for a full track season. It is important for me to win some sponsorship, and I want to try for the qualifying times for the European and Commonwealth Championships.”

February 21

Roger Bruck, 74, secured gold medals in the Over 70 200m, long jump and high jump in the Southern Counties Veterans Championships at Lee Valley. His 1.25m performance in the latter event was his highest jump since 2011 and moves him to top of the national rankings.

February 28

Richard Goodman produced another outstanding performance by placing second in the English National Cross Country Championships at Wollaton Park, Nottingham. Goodman, 20, finished the 12 km, three lap race eight seconds behind the hugely experienced cross country specialist Steve Vernon. Vernon, 33, now holds the record for the greatest ever number of National Championship medals: eight, including two golds. Amongst the international class athletes left trailing behind Goodman were James Wilkinson, GB steeplechase representative at last year's World Athletics Championships, and Jonathan Brownlee, Triathlon world champion and Olympic medallist.

Shaftesbury Barnet athlete Goodman said, "The middle section of each lap was particularly exposed to the strong, gusting wind, and it also included a 200m stretch of very sticky mud. This meant that it was too risky to attempt a long run for home over the full final lap. When I reached the muddy section for the final time, there were lapped runners in the way, causing a bottleneck. Vernon and I were together at the front, and we each chose different racing lines through the mud. Maybe his dozen years of experience running the National helped him. He emerged from the mud and opened up a gap while I was still stuck behind lapped runners, and I couldn't catch him on the final run in. But it was a very pleasing race, and I am now back in full training for the Inter-Counties in March.”

February 28

On behalf of the Men's Southern Counties Masters team, Roger Bruck received the winners’ trophy at the Indoor Inter-Area Challenge Match at Lee Valley. Bruck, 74, won the Over 70 long jump (3.35m) and high jump (1.24m) and placed second in the 60m (9.9).

March 7

Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier George Grant, 15, placed ninth in the England Under 17 Indoor Pole Vault Championship at Sheffield. His vault of 3.70m was just 2 cm short of his personal best.

March 7

Maccabiah gold medallist Ellie Edwards, 17, set a 60 m PB of 8.15 in winning the Sale Harriers Open Event at Sportcity, Manchester.

March 14

Roger Bruck, 74, took one gold medal and three bronze medals in the Over 70 division at the BMAF Indoor National Championships at Lee Valley. Bruck struck gold with a season's best clearance of 1.25 m in the high jump, in which event he heads the national rankings.  He achieved a further season's best with 33.37 in the 200 m. Bruck’s bronze medal events were 60 m, 200 m and long jump.

March 14

Punching the air and roaring in triumph, Richard Goodman charged through the finish line to take the Inter-Counties Senior Cross-Country title at Cofton Park, Birmingham. In winning his first fully open national senior title, Goodman turned the tables on Steve Vernon, the Stockport cross-country and mountain specialist who had narrowly beaten him in the English National Championships two weeks previously. The victory brings an end to Goodman's cross-country season and he has now started training for the track.

Goodman said, "I prepared well in terms of my pre-race diet, whereas I had got that aspect badly wrong before the Nationals. Once the race started I immediately placed myself in the leading group. The pace was extremely fast, even though the four lap course was quite hilly and included some stretches of deep mud. The pace settled down a bit in the second lap, by which time Steve Vernon and I had dropped the entire field apart from Welsh champion Dewi Griffiths. Griffiths was following in our slipstream a pace or two behind.

“Vernon and I continued to battle it out at the front and I was afraid that Griffiths would be the beneficiary. So on the last lap I made sure that Vernon and I were never shoulder to shoulder forming a wind-break for Griffiths. I realised that the two uphill stretches leading to the finish might favour Vernon because of his mountain running, and so I needed to shake him off beforehand. I made a sustained effort over the final 2 km, pushing as hard as I could, and I gradually built up a 50 m lead. Vernon couldn't close it.” Goodman finished the 12 km course in 33:54, nine seconds ahead of Vernon, with Griffiths a further eight seconds back.

Goodman reflected, "I gave the race everything I had, and I was physically and mentally exhausted at the end. I suppose my roar as I crossed the line was a mixture of elation, relief, and the feeling ‘Yes, Vernon, I got you this time!’”

March 21

George Grant, 15, took the Middlesex Under 17 Indoor Pole Vault title at Lee Valley, with a winning vault of 3.20m.

April 11

Olympic finalist Steve Solomon, 20, secured his place for the Commonwealth Games by winning the Australian 400m title by almost a full second in Melbourne. Despite battling a fierce headwind in the home straight, Solomon achieved a time of 45.36, his fastest ever outside of the Olympics. This was Solomon’s third Australian title and it demonstrated that he is now fully recovered from the back injury that impeded him for most of last season. Solomon was beaten by Israeli athlete Donald Sanford in last year's Maccabiah.

Solomon, a medical student at Stanford University in California, said, “It was really painful watching the championships in my dorm last year and there was absolutely nothing I could do, I was still in agony with my back. I’m in a much better position mentally and physically now and I’m super-excited about where this run puts me as I head towards the rest of the season.’’

April 18

Anna Barnett and James Bongart both began their seasons with victories that placed them high in their respective national rankings. Barnett, 14, recorded 26.29m in the discus at the Hercules Wimbledon Young Athletes’ Open Meeting, while Bongart, 17, threw the javelin 50.30m at the Havering Spring Warm Up Meeting.

May 2

Anna Barnett recorded personal bests in two events in the Southern League Division 1 at Bromley, three days before her 15th birthday. She registered throws of 29.46 in the discus and 23.54 in the 4 kg hammer, placing her high in the national under 17 rankings in both events.

Trafford AC athlete Allana Edwards, 14, also established her place in the national under 17 rankings in two events. She recorded 13.3 for 80m hurdles in Liverpool and 51.1 for 300m hurdles at Warrington, placing third and second respectively against older opposition.

Shaftesbury Barnet's Jessica Hurley, 14, achieved a 300m PB of 43.1 in winning the Hertfordshire Phoenix Open at Welwyn, and registered a fast 2:23.91 for 800m at the Watford Open Graded Meeting.

Cardiff AC long distance runner Nathaniel Lane placed fourth in the Welsh 10 miles Championships at Lampeter in a time of 54:39.

May 9 (not printed; superseded by May 16)

Jessica Hurley, 14, equalled her own Shaftesbury Barnet Under 15 record by winning the 300m in 43.1 in the Herts Phoenix Graded Meeting at Welwyn.

May 16

Jessica Hurley, 14, sliced almost a second off her own Shaftesbury Barnet Under 15 300m record with a clear victory in 42.23 in the Herts County Open at Stevenage. Hurley’s performance places her eighth in the national rankings in the event. Her sister and team-mate Rebecca, 15, recorded 51.4s for 300m Hurdles in the same meeting and set a PB of 44.77 for 300m in the UK Youth Development League at Norwich. Presumably inspired by her daughters’ achievements, their mother Colette returned to competition after seven years away from the sport. Representing Barnet and District in the Southern Counties Veterans League at Lee Valley, she was narrowly beaten into second place in the V50 400m in 71.9, and recorded 15.9 for 100m.

Alana Edwards, 14, bettered or equalled her personal bests in three events at the UK Youth Development League at Bebington, Merseyside, achieving 13.1 for 80m hurdles, 51.1 for 300m hurdles and 1.30m in the high jump. Her sister Ellie, 17, achieved season’s bests of 12.8 for 100m and 26.1 for 200m at the same meeting.

May 23

Jamie Cohen, 15, opened his season for Harrow AC with a near-PB high jump clearance of 1.60m and a 1500m run in 4:56.47 in the UK Youth Development League at Newham.

Nottingham University student Nick Davis, 20, secured victory in his first race of the year, with a useful 400m clocking of 52.70 in his heat at the Watford Open Graded Meeting. Davis improved his time to 52.48 at the Stevenage Open Meeting.

May 30

Woodford Green javelin thrower James Bongart, together with Shaftesbury Barnet athletes George Grant and Jessica Hurley, produced top class performances to lift county titles in their specialist events. Bongart, 17, took county gold for the third year running by taking the Essex Under 20 javelin title with a throw of 51.17m. Previously he had achieved a near-PB throw of 52.96 in the British Athletics League at Eton to move to 16th in the National Under 20 rankings. Grant, 15, achieved a personal best height of 3.80m to take the Middlesex Under 17 pole vault title at Lee Valley, while Hurley, 14, was more than two seconds clear of the field in winning the Herts Under 15 300m event in 42.45. Earlier in the week she had set a new personal best 800m time of 2:22.30 at Watford.

Other notable county placings included: Lia Radus, second in the Middlesex Under 13 1500 m; Anna Barnett, third and fourth respectively in the Kent Under 17 discus and the hammer events; Rebecca Hurley, fourth and fifth in the Herts Under 17 400m and 300m hurdles, and Allana Edwards, fourth in the Under 15 Cheshire and Greater Manchester 300m hurdles. Nottingham University student Nick Davis placed sixth in the Middlesex senior 400m championship, while Rachel Ayrton, 14, set a new PB of 2:37.95 to place eighth in the Middlesex Under 17 800m event.

Inter-counties cross country champion Richard Goodman, 22, began his track season by placing sixth in the European Champion Clubs Cup 5000m event in Portugal, recording 14:33.01.

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