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Houghton Harriers produce brilliant bronze double

Houghton Harriers Will Bellamy, Henry Johnson, Sam Gibson, Lydia James, Eva Hardie and Angela Pigford.
Houghton Harriers Will Bellamy, Henry Johnson, Sam Gibson, Lydia James, Eva Hardie and Angela Pigford.
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Houghton Harriers sprang a surprise among the big guns by winning two bronze team medals in the Northern Athletics Road Relay Championships at Sport City yesterday.

The Wearsiders took bronze in both the Men’s and Women’s Under-17 three-stage relay at Manchester, with superb performances from their athletes.

It was the boys that got the medal show off the ground through Henry Johnson, Sam Gibson and Under-17 England Athletics 1500m champion Will Bellamy.

Johnson had got the team involved from the start by finishing sixth on the opening leg (11.59).

Sam Gibson had a great run to haul the team into third on the second leg, with the same time as Johnson.

Then it was left to Bellamy to secure that position and he did it with relish, clocking 11.33 for the sixth fastest time of the day and finishing only one second behind runners-up Leeds with Lincoln Wellington winning.

The girls followed on after that performance and they came up trumps with another outstanding team effort.

Lydia James led off for the club and she came back in 11th (14.19), then it was Eva Hardie’s turn and she ran the race of her life to lift the club into second (13.28) for the fourth fastest of the day.

Now it was all down to Anna Pigford and she stuck to her guns despite losing one place with her 14.17 effort.

Vale Royal won with 40.55, Salford were second (41.35) and Houghton third (42.04).

Former Commonwealth Marathon runner and club coach Lyn Cooper said: “It was not a bad performance from a small club like Houghton. But the athletes deserve it; they have put the training in and the results are showing that.”

There was another great performance from a North East club in the young athletes event when Morpeth won the Under-15 Boys’ with Ben Waterfield (8) 11.33, Euan Duffin (1) 11.19, and Dylan Davies (1) 11.42.

There were no medals for the North East in the senior men’s race where Morpeth were the first to finish in seventh.

#Sam Hancox recorded the club’s fastest leg in 19.46 and former Houghton Harrier Alex Brown clocked 20.40.

Former Sunderland Harriers Jack and Patrick Martin clocked the third (19.34) and eighth (1941) fastest times respectively for the Stockport team that finished sixth.

Liverpool’s Charlie Hulson was the fastest in the race (19.30).

Sunderland Harriers finished 49th with Steven McMahon (72) 23.25, Mark Smith (58) 22.24, Craig Gunn (48) 22.23, Sean Mackie (44) 23.09, Graeme Pullan (48) 24.03 and Joseph Pomfret (50) 23.54.