Sunderland Harriers put on a Masterful display

Left to right: Vicky Haswell, Nikki Woodward and Jacqueline Etherington.
Left to right: Vicky Haswell, Nikki Woodward and Jacqueline Etherington.

Four Sunderland Harriers were among 704 British athletes, and more than 8,000 from around the world, that took part in the World Masters Championships in Malaga, Spain.

The record numbers were accommodated in four stadiums, with events starting from 8am with the mammoth programme taking over 12 days to complete.

Athletes ages ranged from Over-35 to Over-100, where India’s Man Kaur, at the age of 101, took over three minutes to complete her Women’s 100m and 200m sprint double.

Three of the Sunderland athletes came away from the championships with North East Masters records to their name.

The oldest Sunderland Harrier on show was Over-55 Christine Elliott, who set two North East Masters records in the javelin B event (17.24) and the B hammer with a throw of 24.4.

Her daughter, Jacqueline Etherington, finished eighth in the 2,000m steeplechase heat to also break her own North East Masters record with her run of 7.43.12.

She also improved her standing at the top of the UK Over-35 steeplechase rankings.

Vicky Haswell was seventh in her heat of the 800m (2.31.39) and she was also in record breaking form in her other event, the javelin, where she smashed the North East Masters record with her throw of 25.08.

Nikki Woodward just missed out on a final place in her Over-40 800m heats with her run of 2.22.12. She also competed in the 400m and recorded 65.28.

The British Masters 800m champion said: “I’ve reflected on my 800m and realised I got very nervous and was chasing from the start, more relaxation right from the warm up onwards would have helped.

“I really believe I can go sub 2.20 and get into that final. Still improving by 10secs since the start of this season I can’t complain.

“The 400m was enjoyable. I was determined to remember it as the 800m was such a blur! I should have gone out harder and could have done as I picked up the pace in last 200m.

“There’s lots of lessons learned to take forward to the next international competitions.

“The standard has been so high and it has given me even more determination to work towards new goals as I can now see what it takes to be on top of the world!”

She will be quickly back in her racing shoes on Saturday when she competes in the North East Masters 5,000m championship at Monkton Stadium.

The North East’s most successful veteran athlete, Guy Bracken of North Shields, won the M55 1500m (4.30.10) and was third in the 5000m (16.33.33).

He has won the British Masters athlete of the year award and will be presented with his trophy at Monkton.

Club-mate Kath Stewart made it double success for North Shields with victory in the Over-75 400m at Malaga.

On Sunday, Northern Athletics stage their Road Relay Championships at Sport City, Manchester, for all age groups.

Sunderland Harriers have entered two teams in the senior men’s event over six stages of 6,400m.

The first 25 teams to finish qualify for the National Championships at Sutton Coldfield on October 6.

Houghton Harriers have an outstanding chance of medals in the Under-17 Men’s 3-Stage Relay over three legs of 3,700m.

They have two teams entered and England Athletics Under-17 1500m champion Will Bellamy and Inter Counties 1500m champion Henry Johnson, will lead the A team.

The third team member will be chosen from Matthew Cleugh, Samuel Gibson, Jack Seeney or Izaak Taylor.

The Houghton Under-17 Women’s team is Eva Hardie, Lydia James and Anna Pigford.