Andy Abbott returns to winning ways

LIGHTNING QUICK: Left to right: Graham Lee, Hollie Lancaster, Andy Abbott and Amanda Edwards.
LIGHTNING QUICK: Left to right: Graham Lee, Hollie Lancaster, Andy Abbott and Amanda Edwards.
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SPRINTS coach Andy Abbott is back again enjoying success with Sunderland Harriers following a long absence from the sport.

The retired council surveyor picked up where he left off over 20 years ago in the North East Championships with more medal-winning performances.

He was at Gateshead Stadium to see two of his protegees win four medals between them.

Under-15 Hollie Lancaster struck gold in the 100m and was second in the 200m while Logan Powell clinched silver twice in both sprints.

Abbott, who has only been back with the Wearsiders for two years following his departure from the sport for pastures new in 1990, said: “It’s great to be back doing what I enjoy most.’’

Since returning to the Silksworth track, the Seaham man has been gradually building a squad of sprinters from the age of 10 to over-40 veterans.

Abbott was delighted to see one of his athletes from over 20 years ago make a winning return to competition. Twenty three years after her North East outdoor championship victories, Amanda Edwards earned gold in the veterans’ over-40 indoor 60m championships.

In the same indoor championship other members of the sprints group were in the medals in their respective age groups. Sandra Jackson won gold, Graham Lee clinched silver and Stephen Scott claimed bronze.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the sprint squads included horizontal jumpers and javelin throwers, coached by Abbott and Ken Wilkinson.

They had a succession of champions in various disciplines under their tutelage, such as double English Schools’ long jump champion Adele Forrester, North East sprint under-15 and under-17 sprint champion Kerry Wheatley, hurdler Amanda Edwards, 300m runner Bev Blakeman, 400m runner Julie Miller and javelin thrower Dave Pescod.

Now Abbott wants to replicate that success of those far off days as he gradually builds-up his squad.

“I am constantly on the look-out for new talent. There must be a wealth of untapped talent out there and with the Olympics just around the corner, it is an ideal time for youngsters to come forward to see what they can do.

“We could also do with more coaches at the Harriers. The club would be delighted to see anyone interested to come down to the track on a Tuesday or Thursday evening at 6.30pm. They would receive a warm welcome.’’

H Sunderland Stroller Kevin Blyth bids to beat the nine hours mark for running three consecutive marathons in a total time of under nine hours. The 54-year-old started his quest by racing to a 2hr 56min 06sec clocking in the London Marathon on the 22nd April. He then followed that with his 3.07.43 in the Sunderland’s Marathon of the North on May 6 and on Sunday he competes in the Edinburgh Marathon.

H Sunderland Harriers 22nd annual North East Vending Penshaw Hill Race will be held on Wednesday, June 13 at 7.15pm. Entries close in two weeks. The entry form is available on the Sunderland Harriers website.

H The North East Veterans three-stage Road Relay Championships are staged at Bedewell Park, Hebburn on Wednesday, June 6, from 6.45pm. There events for all age groups. Entries close on June 2.

H The North East Athletics League is staged tonight at Monkton Stadium at 7pm. The 3,000m will be one of the highlights with Sunderland Harriers’ Nathan Reed, Oliver James and Kevin Calvert competing. Also tonight is the North Shields Clive Cookson Cup 10k at Monkseaton. The Raby Castle 10k is on Sunday.