Jewish Athletics 2018: Text Versions May to September

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May 11

Eden Davis anchored the East London University 4x100 metre relay team to a fine victory in the British Universities Championships at Bedford. The squad recorded an impressive time of 41.00. Davis, 19, placed fifth in the individual 100m event, recording 10.87 against a headwind. “I wasn't totally happy with my individual performance, but it is early in the season and I should not be peaking yet," Davis commented. "I'm happy that we worked really well as a team and were able to get the baton round cleanly and take the win.”

Some days previously, Davis had contested his first 100m event of the season at the Lee Valley Sprint Open, recording 10.71. Honing his speed at the same meeting, middle-distance specialist Gilad Nachshen, 14, reduced his 200m PB by more than a second to 24.25.

Hannah Viner moved to the top of the UK U23 rankings for the distance when she completed the Mid-Cheshire 5K in 16:44. Highgate Harrier Viner placed ninth overall. Viner reported, "It had been raining all day but it cleared up an hour before the race so conditions were perfect. I went out hard but I wasn't wearing a watch and wasn't aware of my position in the women's race. I am a little disappointed in my time, but it was a road PB and the race came at the end of a heavy training block. It should be a good springboard for the summer."

Maayan Radus, 13, recorded 4:49.82 for 1500m at the Watford Open Graded Meeting, cutting her personal best by almost 6 seconds. Her sister Lia, 16, set a season's best of 4:43.80 at the same meeting, three days after taking 1500m victory at the Eastern Young Athletes League at Reading.

Matti Harris, 15, improved his personal bests for 800m and 1500m in the space of four days, with times of 2:14.04 at the Watford Open Graded Meeting and 4:40.4 in the Eastern Young Athletes League.

May 18

Eden Davis, 19, gained a double victory at the Hertfordshire Championships at Watford, taking the U20 100m in 10.96 and 200m in 22.74. Jessica Hurley, 18, took silver against senior opposition in the 1500m steeplechase, setting a personal best time of 5:46.7.

Idan Gal-Shohet, 17, needed a jump of just 6.04m to secure U20 long jump gold at the Middlesex Championships at Lee Valley. Maayan Radus, 13, took silver in a close race in the U15 1500m, approaching her personal best in a time of 4:51.6. Rosalind Zeffert moved to eighth in the UK V55 rankings when finishing seventh in the 100m in 15.64. Zeffertt also placed sixth in the 200m in 33.82, having faced a headwind in both races.

Emma Taylor, 17, set shot, hammer and javelin marks of 7.52m, 21.21m and 30.18m respectively at the Youth Development League at Reading, entering the national rankings in the javelin. In all cases she was using the full weight senior implement for the first time in competition.

Lucie Wolfenden, 16, set a new pole vault personal best of 3.10m in the North of England League in Flintshire, North Wales.

May 25

Eden Davis, 19, led off the GB junior 4x100m relay team towards victory at the Loughborough International Meeting. Recording 39.53, they consigned the England team to second place, while teams from Wales, Ireland and GB were disqualified or did not finish. Davis went on to set a season's best of 10.59 in the individual event.

Davis commented, "I feel I got out well in the relay and set the rest of the guys up for a good race. My individual race was a bit frustrating after I got called back three times but I managed to stay calm and perform".

Gilad Nachshen, 14, extended his lead at the top of the UK U15 800m rankings when he reduced his PB to 2:00.32 at the Watford Open Graded Meeting. His Shaftesbury Barnet teammate Bini Bloom, also 14, improved his best to 2:19.09 at the same meeting.

Jack Davis-Black, 13, recorded an excellent 4:50 in the YMCA Mile at Crouch End. Participating in a 141-strong field in the Years 7-10 age group, Jcoss pupil Davis-Black was only headed by two other runners, both two years his senior.

Adam Firsht, 15, set a new PB of 2:03.40 in winning his 800m heat at the U17 Sussex Championships at Crawley. He placed fifth in the final that same afternoon with a time of 2:04.19, again inside his previous best. His brother Joshua Firsht, 17, finished fourth in the U20 400m event in 53.20.

Lucie Wolfenden, 16, placed fifth in the U17 Greater Manchester pole vault championships, equalling her best with a clearance of 3.10m.

In her first pole vault competition of the year, Sophie Dowson, 19, scaled a height of 3.60m to achieve fifth place in the British Universities Championship at Bedford.

May 25 - European 10,000m Cup at the Highgate Night of 10,000m PBs

Kenyan-born Israeli athlete Lonah Salpeter, 29, took gold for Israel in the women’s European 10,000m Cup at Parliament Hill. The race was incorporated into the Highgate Night of 10,000m PBs, and also served as the principal GB selection race for the European Championships later this year.

Salpeter, who moved to Israel 10 years ago and worked as a nanny, dominated the 25-lap race from start to finish. Taking up position immediately behind the designated pacemaker, she moved to the front just before halfway. Salpeter quickly established a lead of 20 to 30 metres, then gradually extended it to finish 10 seconds clear of Ancuta Bobocel of Romania. Her winning time of 31:33.03 improved by 6.6 seconds the Israeli record that she set three weeks previously.

“This meeting was so nice,” said Salpeter. “It’s the first time I have run with a crowd where they come so close to the inside lanes of the track. The track felt shorter because they were so close.”

She continued, “I am now a full-time athlete. My next race is probably a 15km in Valencia, and I am aiming for the 5000m and 10,000m at the European Championships."

In the men's race, also serving as the European 10,000m Cup, the three-strong Israeli contingent placed fifth in the team event. Their top individual performer was Girmaw Amare who placed ninth in 28:15.41.

June 1

Hannah Viner capped an intensive nine days of racing by placing 11th in the Vitality London 10,000. Her time of 34:35 was close to her PB, and followed a timing of 4:52 in the Westminster Mile the previous day. The previous week, Viner scored double victories over 800m and 1500m in the Southern League at Watford, setting a personal best of 2:14.4 in the shorter event. Then mid-week Viner set a further PB of 16:37.21 over 5000m in a British Milers Club race at Eltham.

"It was a bit nerve-wracking to be in the elite field in both races this weekend, and to line up alongside Jo Pavey in The Mall", Viner commented. "This season has got off to a good start and I'm looking forward to the Southern Championships and the England Under 23s next month".

Rosalind Zeffertt moved to sixth on the UK V55 100m list with a timing of 15.1 in the Southern League at Watford. She doubled up by recording 33.2 for 200m.

Lia Radus, 16, ran a 1500m season's best of 4:41.35 at the British Milers Club Grand Prix at Watford.

Anna Barnett, 19, gained silver in the Kent U20 discus championships at Ashford with a throw of 30.36m.

Ellie Edwards, 21, opened her outdoor season by recording 12.54 for 100m at the Trafford AC Grand Prix at Stretford.

Aron Yona, 13, set an 800m PB of 2:34.39 at the Watford Open Graded Meeting.

June 8

Lia Radus took time out from her GCSE preparations to demolish her 800m personal best by more than three seconds. The Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier moved to 26th in the UK U17 800m rankings by recording 2:15.27 at the British Milers Club PB Classic at Milton Keynes. This achievement is all the more remarkable considering that Radus normally competes over longer distances.

"The race didn’t start off particularly well as I haven’t run an 800 for a while so I didn’t quite have the starting speed in my legs", Radus reported. "However, in the second lap I was able to use my speed endurance and make up the lost ground. I caught up with the leaders and I'm really happy to have set a great PB. I am now focusing on my exams but I'm really looking forward to competing in the English Schools Championships when they are all over."

Emma Taylor, 17, represented Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers in three events in the Youth Development League at Bromley, setting personal bests in two of them. Taylor improved by more than 1m in the discus with a throw of 19.72m, and exceeded 100 feet for the first time with the full-weight javelin with a throw of 30.91m.

Eden Davis, 19, set a 100m season's best of 10.55 in the British Athletics League at Portsmouth.

Jack Davis-Black, 13, achieved a 1500m PB of 4:52.52 in the Watford Open Graded Meeting.

June 22

Sophie Dowson took fourth place in the England Athletics U23 pole vault championship at Bedford with a clearance of 3.50m. Eden Davis placed sixth in the U20 100m in 10.67, while Hannah Viner came ninth in the U23 1500m in 4:36.79. Within the previous week Viner had placed third in the South of England Senior 1500m Championship and also set a new PB of 4:23.71 for the distance in a BMC Gold Standard race at Watford.

Idan Gal-Shohet, 17, placed fifth in the South of England U20 long jump championship at Bedford, setting an outdoor season's best of 6.42m.

Lucie Wolfenden, 16, set a new PB of 3.15m in winning the U17 pole vault event at the Mason Trophy Inter Counties Schools Championships at Birmingham. Wolfenden had won the U15 title in the same competition two years ago.

Lia Radus gained the 1500m silver medal in the U17 London Schools Championships at Battersea, recording 4:42.20.

The Firsht brothers provided excellent service to Brighton & Hove AC with a win and a second place in the Youth Development League at Brighton. Joshua, 17, won the U20 400m in 52.8. Younger brother Adam, 15, was only headed by his own teammate in the U17 800m, coming close to his personal best in 2:03.5.

Jack Davis-Black, 13, beat stiff competition to win the Barnet Schools 1500m Championship in a new personal best time of 4:46.

Emma Taylor, 17, entered the U20 national rankings in the hammer throw with a distance of 23.86m in the Blackheath & Bromley Open meeting.

June 22

Immanuel College pupil Gilad Nachshen, 14, has become the first UK Under 15 athlete this year to beat two minutes for 800m. Nachshen cut his personal best by over a second to record 1:59.10 in the latest Watford Open Graded Meeting.

"I was placed in a field of older athletes who were aiming for 1:55, and I was knocked around a lot during the race", Nachshen said. "I passed halfway in 59 seconds, two seconds slower than I had planned. But I maintained my pace and made a final push in the home straight".

Nachshen trains twice a week at Allianz Park under the guidance of Jeremy Sothcott, in a group that includes several Jewish athletes including David Stone. His programme also includes a Sunday morning session at Parliament Hill. He reported, "My training at Shaftesbury Barnet has been going really well recently, with a lot of sprint repetition work with short recovery periods.”

Nachshen will spend two weeks in Israel on a school trip before representing Hertfordshire in the England Schools Athletics Championships in Birmingham next month.

June 29

Hannah Viner, 21, improved her 800m PB by over four seconds with a time of 2:13.99 in a British Milers Club event at Eltham. Jack Davis-Black and Aron Yona, both 13, also rewrote their personal bests for the distance in the Young Athletes League at Finsbury Park. Their times were 2:21.54 and 2:32.61 respectively.

Eden Davis, 19, unofficially represented England and Great Britain in Guernsey and Poland in the space of four days. His times over 100m were 10.71 and 10.74 respectively. "They didn't go well technically but I learned a lot that I will take forward into future competitions", Davis remarked.

Roger Bruck, 78, began his outdoor season by earning gold, silver and bronze at the British Masters South of England Championships at Battersea. The respective events were high jump, 200m and 100m. His 1.23m in the high jump reinforces Bruck’s position as the U.K.'s top jumper in his age category.

July 6

Lia Radus, 16, improved her 800m best to 2:13.71 at the BMC Gold Standard event at Trafford. This performance means that Shaftesbury Barnet Harrier Radus has improved her best by five seconds in the course of one month, and now stands 24th in the UK U17 rankings.

“I started off a bit too slowly, so I feel there is still room for improvement. Nevertheless I am delighted with my time", Radus commented. "I will be running the 1500m, my main event, in the English Schools Championships later this month, and my progression over 800m should mean that I can perform well there".

Adam Firsht, 15, was narrowly beaten into second place in the 800m final at the Independent Schools Association National Championships at Birmingham. Firsht, representing Shoreham College, finished just outside his personal best in 2:03.61.

Highgate long jump specialist Idan Gal-Shohet, 17, set an outdoor season's best of 6.60m in the Southern Athletics League at Parliament Hill.

July 13

Shaftesbury Barnet athletes David Stone, 16, and Maayan Radus, 14, both withstood 31° temperatures to gain 1500m victories in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Allianz Park, Hendon.

In his first track race of the season, Stone headed the U17 field for the first 200m before settling into second place for much of the race. He retook the lead with 300m remaining to ease to a comfortable win in 4:09.29, a 10 second PB. Likewise Radus tracked the leader in the U15 race before surging over the last 300m to win in 4:54.

Roger Bruck maintained his unbeaten run in the high jump in the England Masters Inter Area Challenge at Solihull. Competing in the 70+ category, Bruck, 78, scaled 1.20m. However, with all age groups competing together, the bar was raised 5 cm at a time, and 1.25m was not to be attained on this occasion.

Brothers Joshua and Adam Firsht earned good points for Brighton & Hove AC in the Youth Development League at Southampton. Joshua, 17, recorded 11.9 for 100m and 24.3 for 200m, while Adam, 15, was just 0.1 outside his 800m personal best with 2:03.5.

Matti Harris gained a personal best and Adam Cahn a season's best contesting the 800m for Shaftesbury Barnet at the London Inter Club Challenge at Allianz Park. Harris, 15, recorded 2:10.92 while Cahn, 16, achieved 2:06.91.

Aron Yona, 13, recorded 5:01.68 at the Watford Open Graded Meeting in his first ever 1500m race.

July 20

Gilad Nachshen and Lia Radus survived hard-fought preliminary rounds to make the finals of their events at the England Schools’Championships at Birmingham.

Nachshen, 14, contested the Junior 800m on returning from a three-week school trip to Israel, during which an illness had necessitated several hospital visits. "That, and the inability to train, didn't make for an ideal preparation", he reflected. "In the preliminary round I was grabbed from behind and only placed fourth. In the final I was positioned well in the first 600m, but then I was knocked off balance by a runner behind me and I finished sixth. It was disappointing but I'm in a good position now to regain my full fitness." Nachshen’s times in the preliminary round and final were 2:02.88 and 2:03.19.

Lia Radus made the final of the Intermediate Girls 1500m despite being spiked with 200m to go in the heats. She reported, "The final was tough; a slow start gave way to a very fast finish. I was well placed for most of the race but nerves and the hot weather meant that I was unable to maintain my position over the final 500m and I finished 10th. But I learnt a lot from the experience, including how to cope with heats and finals in major Championships.” Radus’ times were 4:36.44 and 4:41.01.

Sophie Dowson, 19, achieved a season's best pole vault clearance of 3.65m in placing third in the Welsh Senior Championships at Cardiff.

Matti Harris gained a personal best and Adam Cahn a season's best contesting the 800m for Shaftesbury Barnet at the London Inter Club Challenge at Allianz Park, Hendon. Harris, 15, recorded 2:10.92 while Cahn, 16, achieved 2:06.91.

Jack Davis-Black, 13, cut his 3000m PB to 10:31.84 at the Woodford Green Open.

Joshua Goldstein, 11, set a new 1500m best of 5:32.42 in the Eastern Young Athletes League at Allianz Park.

July 27

Richard Goodman confronted temperatures nearing thirty degrees Celsius on his return to racing after a five months' injury layoff. Goodman recorded 31:19 in the British 10K at Westminster, placing 11th in a high-quality field. Goodman was one of several runners critical of the organisation by Virgin Sport, saying "The course needs revising to appeal to more elite athletes. There are too many hairpin turns slowing the pace at the front".

Adam Firsht, 15, overcame a field of older, and on paper faster, 800m runners in the Southern League at Winchester. His winning time of 2:01.7 was a 1.7s improvement on his previous personal best. The Brighton & Hove athlete also contested the 400m, placing second in 54.8 in his first official race at the distance.

Sophie Dowson, 19, achieved a season's best pole vault clearance of 3.70m at the Hampshire Grand Prix Open at Basingstoke.

Idan Gal-Shohet gained long jump victories on successive days, competing in the Southern League at Parliament Hill and the Medway & Maidstone AC Open at Gillingham. His winning marks were 6.50m and 6.52m respectively.

Jayden Klein, now 12, entered the national U13 high jump rankings with a clearance of 1.33m at the Watford Open Graded Meeting. Maccabi London Harrier Klein is already nationally ranked at 100m and 200m, with times of 13.94 and 28.83 achieved at previous Watford Meetings. All these marks were achieved when Klein was 11.

July 27

A chapter of my life ends today.

Eleven and a half years ago I approached Danny Caro with a suggestion of becoming the Jewish Chronicle Athletics Correspondent. I had never been the correspondent of anything before; my full-time career had revolved around computing and mathematics. But I knew something of the Jewish athletics scene because I occasionally trained at Copthall Stadium, Hendon. I felt that the young athletes in the community deserved more consistent coverage and encouragement in the pages of the JC. I was able to show Danny a feature I had written on the London Marathon for the JC the previous year. It demonstrated that I had an enthusiast’s knowledge of athletics. Thankfully, possessing a modicum of knowledge of any other sport was not a requirement of the role. Danny took me on, and he has supported me throughout.

Since that time I have written over 400 articles on athletics for the JC, beginning with my "Marathon Man" series on how to prepare for the challenge of that distance. I have burned the midnight oil on most Monday evenings, to provide copy in time for the early Tuesday deadline.

But this is my last day in the role. In a few days time I depart these shores for at least a year or two, to join my family including my two grandchildren in Israel. The title of JC Athletics Correspondent passes jointly to Rosalind Zeffertt and Murray Ayrton, who are both deeply involved in and passionate about the sport.

The role has brought me deep satisfaction. Through it I have been privileged to come to know giants of the sport, who otherwise I might only admire from afar. For example, over 50 years ago, I knew Roger Bruck as a name on the noticeboard at Copthall Stadium, the holder of the Shaftesbury Harriers record for 100 yards. Mel Watman was the athletics writer whose "Encyclopaedia of Athletics" I had chosen as a school prize. Now, well thumbed but still cherished, the book could be enhanced with a personal message from the author. Danielle Sanderson and James Espir were the fine international athletes whose medal-winning performances I would read about in the national press. Through my involvement in writing in the JC, these and others have become friends and have shown me many kindnesses.

But the biggest joy has been to promote the exploits of the young athletes of the community. My own life experience showed me how athletics can transform a young person's confidence and self-image. I left primary school without having shown a single sporting ability. But that changed within days of starting secondary school when I ran my first cross-country race. Athletics can be like that, with an event for everyone, whatever their body shape. Throughout these 11 years, there have been many committed and talented young athletes within the community.  It has been a joy to follow their progress, interview them, write about them and in this way encourage participation in a sport that can set a young person on a path towards lifelong fitness.

I would like to thank Danny for his consistent support throughout my time writing in the JC. Danny gave me every encouragement in setting up the Daniel Sacks Awards, to recognise the successes of young athletes and to keep alive the memory of my late son. Going forward, Murray and Rosalind are determined to keep the readership well informed about the achievements of the athletes in our community. I know they will do a great job. I wish them well and hope that they will have as much fun in the role as I have had.

September 14

Irena Szewinska is widely regarded as one of the greatest track and field athletes of all time. Winning one gold and two silver Olympic medals at the age of 18, she went on to win two further golds and two bronzes in subsequent Olympic Games. She was the only female athlete to ever win medals in four successive Olympiads, and the only athlete of either sex to hold world records over each of 100, 200 and 400 metres.

Irena Kirszenstein was born to Jewish parents in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on May 24, 1946. Her father, Jakub Kirszenstein was an acoustic engineer from Warsaw, while her mother, Eugenia came from Kiev. The family moved to Warsaw in 1947.

Kirszenstein began competing in athletics in 1960 at the age of 14. Tall and long legged, she demonstrated her potential by winning three gold medals in the European Junior Games of 1964. One month later she contested the same three events at the Tokyo Olympics, placing second to Mary Rand in the long jump, winning another silver medal in the 200m and a gold as part of the Polish 4x100m relay team.

In 1967 Kirszenstein married her coach, Janusz Szewinski, a national level hurdler.

In 1968 Szewinska went to Mexico as world record holder in the 200m. After winning bronze in the 100m she pulled away from the field in the 200m to take her first individual Olympic gold medal, beating her own world record time. Still not fully fit after giving birth to her son Andrzej in 1970, she took the bronze medal in the 200m in the 1972 Munich Olympics. In autumn 1973 she switched to the 400m event and was the first woman to break 50 seconds for the distance. She returned to the Olympic stage in Montreal in 1976 to win the 400m in a new world record of 49.29, a time which still stands 42 years later as the Polish National record. At her last Olympics in 1980 she suffered a muscle strain that brought an end to her competitive career.

Szewinska’s sporting achievements also included five European championship gold medals (and five other medals) and unbroken sequences of 38 victories over 200m and 36 over 400m. She set eight individual world records and participated in two further relay world records.

After bringing her competitive career to a close, Szewinska took an active role in several sporting and political organizations. She was the president of the Polish Athletic Association for 12 years from 1997. As a representative of the International Olympic Committee, she was a member of the team checking the state of preparations for the Olympic Games in 2004, 2012 and 2020. In 2005 she was elected to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council.

She was an inductee of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the IAAF Hall of Fame.

Szewinska died at the age of 72 after a long battle with cancer. The Olympic flag at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne was lowered for three days in her honour.

Irena Kirszenstein Szewinska, born 24 May 1946, died 29 June 2018 

Irena Szewinska is survived by her husband Janusz Szewinski and two sons, Andrzej and Jaroslaw.


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