A tough year for athletes – but many manage to shine

There may have been a distinct lack of action on the track, but 2020 still provided some cause for celebration for a number of Telford Athletic Club’s star turns.

Jake Watson
Jake Watson

The coronavirus pandemic forced tracks and clubs up and down the country to close and t

rack and field competitions were very limited all summer with the Shropshire and Shropshire Schools Championships, Midland Championships, National Age Group Championships, English Schools and all league meetings cancelled. Despite this, several Telford athletes travelled far and wide to get competition and with the final end of year ranking lists now published, several are highly ranked, with 12 athletes in the top 20 in the UK.

Jake Watson, Mark Elliott and Jamie Wilkinson all share top billing after climbing to the top of the UK rankings in their respective disciplines.

Pole vaulter Watson, from Sheriffhales, a former Idsall School student, finished in pole position in the under-23 rankings and the 14th senior. His best performance came while representing Oxford University at an indoor varsity match with Cambridge University where he vaulted 4.72m. The English Schools medallist also won the Midland Indoor Championships.

In the Masters age group, Elliott finished top of the UK over-40s hammer rankings with his best throw of the season 43.93m – seven metres further than his nearest rival.

Wilkinson, now in the over-45 age group, also finished top of the UK listings in the javelin thanks to a throw of 44.56m.

Branka Sukara-Fielding has now moved into the over-50 category and ended the summer ranked second with a new personal best of 3.94m in the long jump.

Charlie Carvell’s only 400m outing of the summer proved a successful one as he smashed his personal best and the Telford club record by running 49.5 seconds, which puts him third in the UK under-17 age group.

Tobie Watson took part in three races over the 400m hurdles this season and clocked a best of 55.42, which put him fourth in the UK.

Shrewsbury High student Dani Hales is now in the under-20 age group and started the season by finishing third in the national indoor championships and then went on to have five races during the shortened outdoor season, the highlight of which was her first invitation to take part in the televised British Championships. In the heats, she ran a lifetime best and new club record of 13.99s, as she qualified for the final. Her time left her ranked fifth in her age group.

Under-17 Jolyon Davis threw the javelin in four competitions and his best of 55.07m puts him 10th in the UK.

Also 10th ranked as an under-20 was Oliver Carvell, the 2019 English Schools senior boys’ 800m champion.

Daisy Frost competed in a variety of different distance races with her best performances coming in the 1500m, where she ranks 11th in the UK in the under-13s.

Dawley’s Tegan Stoddart was one of the busiest Telford athletes. Her highest-ranked event was the under-17 shot where her 12.61cm performance left her 16th in the standings and got her name in the club’s record books.

Dan Galloway moved to the under-17 age group and recorded four personal bests, including two performances that ranked him in the top 20 in the 1,500m and the 3,000m.

Other leading performances from Telford AC members came from Alex Burrows, who was the only athlete to dip under four minutes for the 1,500m.

The club had five athletes – Oliver Carvell, Adrian Lloyd Davies, Josh Roura, Dan Galloway and Connor Jones – run under two minutes for 800m, while Ben Naudi was just outside by six hundreths of a second.

Lucy Elcock finished the year top of the club’s sprint rankings at 100m, 200m and 400m and Ruby Hancox also had a good summer as she recorded personal bests in the 400m (61.0) and 800m (2.32.8).

Dylan Gillett and Dan Connolly were able to travel to take part in 5K road races and produced some impressive times.

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