Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and


When you look at County Championships these days, you realise they are not supported as much as they were in years gone by but the Southern Championships, on the 22/23 of June, despite clashing with the European Team Championships at Gateshead, were reasonably well supported and despite the weather forecast indicating showers, fortunately they did not materialise on the Sunday.
   Championship Best Performances are hard to come by with such names as Steve Ovett, Greg Rutherford, Paula Radcliffe, Mark Rowland, Sally Gunnell, Gary Oakes and Linford Christie amongst those achievers in the past. However, there was an outstanding Championship Best by Nick Perry of Shaftesbury Barnet. As an 'Under 20' he threw the discus 62.79, wiping away the CPB of  58.21. Two other throws he did were ahead of the Championship Best - 60.26 and 60.97. Also in the Under 20 hammer Callum Brown of City of Norwidh hurled the implement 72.49 metres, beating the previous best of 71.84.
   It was interesting for me to see Adam Hickey, winning the Men's 1500 in 3:51.6. He was coached by Eamonn Martin who took his 'charge' over from the late 'Great' Mel Batty. I saw Hickey win the prestigious Victoria Park '5' road race earlier in the season.
   Andrew Robinson had to run a 10.45 to win the Men's 100m Final with Leevan Yearwood second in  10.63.
   The 'Under 20' 100/200 was won by Herne Hill Harrier Marvin Popoola in 10.75/21.76


In the 5000m won by Josh Guilmant of Brighton Phoenix in 14:59.03  there were some impressive times put up by two veterans Ben Pochee (M40) of Highgate Harriers ran 15.26.74 and 'Over 45' runner Andrew Robinson of Kingston & Poly/Thames Hare & Hounds ran 15.52.4.


You must be high in the Vets ranks?
      " I am doing reasonably I guess. I usually finish second in the 5000's at my age group although, there is a chap called Gordon Lee up in Leicester who has run 15.07 this season.This one is my fastest this year.In recent years I did 15.33 in the Surrey's a year ago. I have had a really rough month.I was hoping to be going faster but work has been berserk.'
Your name rings a bell with me as being a good vet?
     "I got a silver at the European Masters indoors in San Sebastian in March  (3000 in 9.04) and that is my first veteran one.To be honest I have been kind of grounded because I have got busy teenage kids.You plan a race on a Saturday and they come home on Friday night and say' I have got to be at football there and rowing there; an exam there, music practices there; I just have to say I am not going then. It has been a busy phase of life.'
When did you start running then, and did a particular event stand out?
 " As a teenager I started. I was at Oxford University and so when you beat Cambridge in the Varsity match, that is always good, they are memorable moments really. I did the 800 and then switched to the steeplechase in my last year to try and get a 'Blue'  because there was a very good Cambridge 1500 runner none of us could touch. Then I went on to Boxhill and Haringey. I did British League 1500's for Haringey for a little while but I was mediocre, 3:52 for 1500 and 8.16 for 3000. I Just dipped under 9 minutes for a steeplechase. That was probably the high point. Then I had 15 years off, then took my son down the club, when he briefly got interested aged 10.
I found I could park in a group one end of the track and started joining in with the grownups and suddenly it all started coming back. So I have had a lot of fun in the last five years, especially with Kingston, because they do well in the sprints and jumps and throws but no distance runners.They still pester me for the British Leagues."


800m 1 Zac Randall (Shaftesbury Barnet ) 1.57.2; 2 Daniel Stepney (Brighton Phoenix) 1.58.32; 3 Nick Goolab , (Belgrave, the Ex-National Junior cross-Champion) 1.58.83.
  Zac's fastest. " I have done 1.50.30 in 2010. I am 20 years old and I ran that when I was 17. I have had a lot of injury problems since. So far this season it is going quite well. I am racing well.
  It was tactical today
         ' I have had a lot of  injury problems which has effected my strength but my speed has always been a strength so tactical suited me.'
His coaches
' I used to be coached by my Dad, David Randall. He has had a lot of influence. I am coached by Richard Partridge. He coaches Oliver Aetchison (AFD) who won the Under 20 England Championships last week (in 1.50.1). I came sixth in the 'Under 23's '1500-(3.49.56). I am always willing to win a Championships but now I want to go out and  hopefully attack that PB. The same PB for three years!.'
       Mike Turner the Cambridge University 'Guru' of athletics, who was the England cross-country Captain said to me, there was so much importance in being able to win a race, rather than just think of fast times because it gives you a boost?
        "Running fast times is great but I think some people just get trapped into running just BMC's. When it comes to a Championship, you have lost the art of racing.My coach always says If you win races times will come. If you get in those fast races you try and win them,."
       His start
" I started when I was about 10, ten years ago at least. I have always loved running."


200 1 Joey Duck (Marshall Milton Keynes AC) 23.98; 2 Laura Turner (Harrow AC) 24.05; 3 Shanice Harrison (South London Harriers) 24.24.
           "I had 18 months out of competition and 9 or 10 months out of any type of training. (She had a baby).
I started back about November time.'
   You were pleased with your 200 today!
  "It is slowly getting there. As long as it is getting quicker. I still can't get there first part of my race right.I am feeling stronger.I was not very happy with my 100 yesterday (5th in the Final in 12.02).The winner was Laura Turner in 11.60 with Montell Douglas of Blackheath and Bromley 2nd in 11.87)- but that was just trying to get me back into it.'
   'My best time I did was 11.6 in 2009 in the AAA's and my best was 23.4 for 200 (2008). I am trying to get back to that. I have just been unlucky with injuries but I am getting stronger now. I am with Matt Elias in Cardiff now. It just means I am working there for Welsh Athletics and I just live there now, just a change from London. I am putting races together injury free. I definitely like the 200 most'
   'I started at age 11. My teacher took me down to Milton Keynes athletics club. It was from my primary School, where I live.
'I will never forget my first race as I was non-scoring. I ran 30 seconds in the 200 and 13.8 in the 100 and.I have run for Milton Keynes my whole life."


She won the 3000m Women's Steeplechase in 10.34.54 and went on to win the 3000 flat in 9.46.00
1 Emma Taylor-Gooby (Worthing & District Harriers) 9.46.00; 2nd home in the race was an 'Under 20' international cross-country runner, Alex Clay (Invicta East Kent in 9.50.04.
    32 year old Emma's real passion for the sport really began in earnest when winning the Sussex Cross country Championships in 2012 and then a gain in 2013 "It is only my first couple of track seasons. I just love cross-country. I have always run off road. Now with a bit of guidance from Geoff Hill down in Worthing.'
   What was her memories of  the 3000 at Watford "I have run three this season. I had no competition so it is nice to have someone on my shoulder. It was too windy to do anything impressive.'
   It must be good to have started to run seriously when you are older later?
      " Not to get bored with it!. I am loving the steeplechase.I have done three now. It is more like cross-country
on the track."


1 Andy Blow (Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC) 14.57; (W/S -0.8); 2 Gabriel Odujobi (Sale Harriers) 14.63; 3 Richard Baderin (Sale Harriers) 14.71.
    I remembered Andy winning the Southern inter-Counties over 400 hurdles awhile back?
      "I switched from the 400 hurdles, because I had to get a full-time job as I had no funding. As a result 110 hurdles are much easier to train around a full-time job and also I felt like another challenge. I felt I had got all I could do over the 400 hurdles. It was arguably my best event. I ran 50.56 which ranked me in the top ten for a few years.
 'I have done 14.28. for 110 (About 16th in the UK). I am going OK'
  His Job "I work for a nutrition company. I work as a regional account Manager for the South of England. It gives me a bit of flexibility to plan my diary and train around full-time work. I am really enjoying 110 hurdles. Running quick. Lifting big in the gym, no more horrible training sessions where you leave your heart and sole on the track. I am really enjoying it and hopefully my target is to run under 14 seconds over the next year or two. Fingers crossed this season. I am 27 now so got a few  years left in me.'
Most Great hurdlers I have met were older than that!
' That is the thing, as they can go on for a while. I will be involved in athletics for another two or three years.
I don't want to stop until I have hit my target of sub-14 seconds and see how we go from there.
Hughie Teaape (13.44 in 1992) is my coach. He is very good technically. His strengths are the technical  side of things.Working on the trail leg and the lead leg. Coming from a 400 hurdle background you don't actually have to hurdle that well. You can get round by being a good 400 runner. For 110 m hurdles you have got to hurdle well. If you can't hurdle well you are going to do no good."


GEORGE HARRISON the President of Shaftesbury and Barnet AC, who has coached many for a very long time and, as a young man he ran for Highgate Harriers. He was known as 'The Old Fox' as the best distance man at Highgate when I started out running as a senior for the club. George wad 3rd in the AAA's Marathon back in the 1960's. He is currently the coach to Kyle Langford who won the Southern 'Under 20' 800m, leading all the way, at Watford
1 Kyle Langford (Shaftesbury Barnet AC) 1:54.38 (He won his heat in 1:54.65); 2 Nicholas Landeau (Ealing Southall & Middlesex) 1:55.02; 3 Dudley Mason (Southampton AC) 1.55.11
   George comments "He has got talent. He is in his second season of running. He has run 48.6 for 400m. He is 17 years of age, 1:49 for 800; 4.06 in the City Mile 'Elite' race and today he has won the Under 20's in 1.54. '
  You have coached a lot of runners with talent over the years. My friend Adrian Stewart, who was an international Junior cross country runner and ran with me on the winning Insurance Road Relay team in 1984 when he was a senior, so you could add him to your list?
    "Along the line there has been Paul Herbert, Gary Staines, Pat Chester and so forth. I have advised  thousands  of athletes since I was competing. St Albans School. They are still doing well. We went  to Washington and there we won on the East Coast Championships of America and the Junior varsity and senior varsity with my boys. We have got a good squad, over 40 of them. On Saturday mornings it is up at the cricket field.''
   'Kyle is in his second full season and in Oaklands College and Rob Denmark is there and, if there is anything that needs to be polished up properly.Kyle he is a very exciting prospect. This year alone I can see 1:47!.  I think he is on the line with the Cram's, Ovetts and Coes in my opinion."


Under 20 Discus winner (1.75 Disc) 1 Nick Perry 18, (Shaftesbury Barnet) with 62.79 Championship Best. 2 Matt Blandford (Tonbridge) 51.2 also coached by John Hillier and 3rd Duane Jibunoh (Thurrock Harriers) AC 45.19.
" I am in the European Juniors for Rieti.' said Nick.
   Was that his favourite event?
   "I did do the shot and play with hammer but discus is my main event.My last best throw before to-day was 62.21 in Germany.'
   First started doing field events "Five years ago. I live on the Isle of Wight. My coach there is Andy Frost. I live just down the road from his first coach Ray Scoble, who gets everyone to try the discus and hammer and everything. I went down and as I was quite good as an under 11/13 I stuck with it since.'
   'I have just finished my 'A' levels but doing another 'A' level, as a gap year to try and get to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland. I did not do the Southern last year but won the 'Under 20' in the British Championships.'
   I interviewed Al Oerter who won 4 Olympci gold medals for the discus. Is he a hero of yours? (The Para Olympians are Nick's heroes as you will see)
"My coach John Hillier knew him (Al Oerter) but unfortunetly John has had three heart attacks in the last two weeks. He is back up at the moment and did want to come down today'
' Me and my Mum help out with the Special Olympians. One of the guys we have got, called Zac and we have helped get classified for the special Olympics. He has got learning difficulties and got metal plates in his head. He has got co-ordination problems but he can run the 100m faster than I can!
   'I think when you watch the Olympics with swimmers with no legs and just half an arm and you think 'If they can do it you can't complain!."


Javelin:- 1 Bonnie Buwembo, 23,  (Enfield & Haringey AC) 70.78, 2 Craig Lacy Reading AC) 62.87; 3 David Brice (Brighton & Hove City AC) 61.57
      "To-day was my second best throw in my life, just 2 centimetres away from my PB
       Started throwing "When I was 14.I took it up at school and carried it on.'
       First Success:- "UK Champion Under 15's in my last year year Under 15's and I had only been  throwing the javelin for four months and I did a Championship Best. That put me fourth in the 'All Time' rankings'
      That was exiting for you and a feeling that you must carry on
      Since those early days - 'Not a lot of success because I had been injured. Every year I am just fighting fit and this year shoulder problems.It has been a bit better this year. Every single year I have had an injury, back, legs, hamstrings, everything.
You have managed to survive.
"It is about will power and mental strength and if you can overcome it, you can carry on."      

Alastair Aitken

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