Sunderland Harrier claims middle distance double

Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson
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Michael Wilson put his name into the record books with his superb middle distance double in the North East track and field championships at Gateshead over the weekend.

The Sunderland Harrier won the under-20 junior men’s 1500m and 800m titles on Saturday and Sunday.

I still had something left if it was needed.

The 19-year-old Seaham athlete made it a total of seven 800m titles through the age groups, since winning his first as an under-13 in 2008, a feat that has never been accomplished previously.

And with his 1500m win on Saturday, that made it two wins over the metric mile, having won his previous title as an under-15 in 2010.

It was a magnificent record for the popular Birmingham University sports student, who had to dash back to the Midlands for exams tomorrow after yesterday’s 800m.

It was no easy ride for Wilson on Saturday in the 1500m, as facing him was Middlesbrough Mandale athlete Matthew Bailey who had a faster time (3.53.8) for the distance than Wilson had (3.54.87). And it was Bailey who laid down the gauntlet, hitting the front from the off and putting his own stamp on the race.

He was still leading at the bell, but Wilson was just behind waiting for the opportune moment to strike out with his deadly kick.

That came on the top bend with 200m to go to the finish, quickly opening a gap which he extended to the finish. Wilson clocked 3.55.80, more than 20 metres ahead of his rival, who recorded 3.59.20 for the silver medal.

In the 800m yesterday, Wilson’s class again shone through after a slow first lap in 63 seconds, hitting the front down the back straight and holding that place despite being challenged.

There was a moment when he came under attack by Morpeth’s Ryan Green in the home straight, but a rapid change of gear saw the gritty Wilson safely across the line in first place.

“I still had something left if it was needed,” said Wilson, whose winning time was 158.04.

“I was happy with the way the race was run. I had heavy legs during the heat and I was a little concerned. But, in the end, it worked out well.

“Racing to me is all about winning titles and I will continue to concentrate on that.

“Having won nine titles seems a bit weird to me, but it’s there forever and I am delighted with that.”

The senior 1500m men’s race on Saturday passed 800m in a dawdling 2.20, with two Sunderland Harriers involved in the chase for the medals. Sparrow Morley and Nathan Reed were shadowing race favourite Adrian Bailes, who went into the 1500m championship race on the back of an impressive 400m (50.1) 10 days ago.

It was the Birtley runner that first showed his intent at the bell, making a long run for home with Reed and Morley in pursuit. At the top of the back straight, it looked like Reed was going to catch the flying Bailes, but it was Morley who was left to close him down with a last gasp effort, failing to catch him by half-a-second after a final 300m timed at 40 seconds.

Morley said: “I think we gave too much respect to Adrian after his 50.1 400m.

“I had to run wide to pass Nathan and I think that made the difference between winning and finishing second.”

The times were Bailes (4.07.54), Morley (4.07.85) and Reed (4.08.03).

Reed was back for the 800m yesterday and picked up a silver medal this time, behind Bailes (1.58.77) to Reed’s 2.00.61.

Also winning medals in the Sunderland Harriers colours was under-15 Molly Gardner, who secured third place in the 100m (13.06) and Jess Fox with third in the under-20 1500m (5.16.32).