Sunderland Harriers off to World Masters Athletics Championship in Malaga

Christine Elliott, Jacqui Etherington,  Nikki Woodward and Vicky Haswell.
Christine Elliott, Jacqui Etherington, Nikki Woodward and Vicky Haswell.
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Four Sunderland Harriers are off to Spain and the World Masters Athletics Championships in September.

Over 8,000 athletes from 100 countries will be travelling to Malaga to contest the massive championships which start on September 4 and ends on the 16th.

Among them will be Vicky Haswell, Nikki Woodward, Jacqui Etherington and her mother Christine Elliott.

Haswell is down for the Over-35 800m and javelin, Woodward goes in the Over-40 800m and 400m, Over-35 Etherington has a busy time with the 2k steeplechase, 1500m and 800m in her programme, while Elliott competes in the Over-55 hammer and javelin.

Haswell said: “For me, it’s to gain experience at such a huge event and to improve and build on performances earlier in the season. I’m Northern and North Eastern W35 800m champion but I’m running faster with every race. If things continue the way they are going I think I have an outside chance of qualifying for the final.

“For Christine, she’s going for the experience of an international event. She’s the North East Masters’ record holder for the W55 hammer and is hoping to extend that record in Malaga.

“Jacqui is hoping to finish in the top eight in the steeplechase which is being run as a straight final. She was ranked eighth in the world in 2017.

“She’s aiming to clock a PB which would also mean breaking her own North Eastern Masters W35 record. For the 800 and 1500 she’s aiming for PB’s and places in the final.”

Woodward said: “At the end of the track season in 2017 I made the decision to focus on 800m with a 12-month goal of Malaga in mind.

“Simon Taylor provided a weekly training plan tailored to my preferences – progressive selected competitions, flexibility, variety – including track, off road runs, swim and bike.

“He has provided invaluable expertise to challenge me and find out what I’m capable of achieving.

“The support of teammates has kept me focused. I’ve never had one main focus before and this has been the hardest part, keeping disciplined and reminding myself what my goals are.

“I’m really looking forward to putting on my GB kit, being part of the GB team and representing Sunderland Harriers and the North East in what I’m sure will be a memorable and inspiring championships.’’

Woodward is aiming for sub 2.25 for 800m (PB 2.27.17) and sub 64 for 400m (PB 65.16). She faces a tough task in qualification as there are 58 competitors in the 800m and 35 in the 400m heats.

But before then she competes for the first time in the British Masters Track and Field Championships at Birmingham on 25/26th of August, where she has high hopes.

She added: “I aim to medal in both the 800m and 400m at Birmingham.’’

While Haswell is looking further ahead and she said: “After Malaga the three of us are planning a trip down to Long Eaton in October to race in the National Masters Cross Country Relay Championships to hopefully bring back the gold medal to Sunderland which would be an improvement on the bronze we won last year.”

There are two North East officials playing leading roles at the championships with Archie Jenkins (Morpeth) British Men’s team manager for middle distance, cross country and road and assisting with the women is Lynne Marr (Tynedale).

l Houghton Harrier Lee Dover was a clear winner (58.17) of the South Shields 10 mile race. He won by nearly a minute from Durham City athlete Matthew Hornsby (59.11).

Jarrow and Hebburn AC claimed the next three places through Jack Brown (60.10), Johnny Evans (62.04) and Richard Harrison (62.49). Tim Jones (Washington Running Club) was sixth in 63.25. The women’s race was won by Sophie Robson (71.44) of Jarrow and Hebburn.

Sunderland Harrier Paul Blakey finished 13th (34.35) and third Over-45 in the York 10k.

Tonight sees the final North Eastern Grand Prix of the season at Gateshead Stadium.

There are 200m, 400m, 800m and 3000m graded races. The event starts at 7pm.