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26th May, 2024, Alastair Aitken

I thought it would be good to begin this report by talking to one of the officials Richard Priestley, who was President of the Middlesex Athletics Association in 2015/16 and has been Middlesex Team Manager for 15 years, of the 102 years of its existence of the association.

“ Richard. What drives you on?”

“ I suppose the affinity with the County when I was competing. I just want to keep that legacy going.”

“ What was your best times for events you did most”

“ 1:53 for 800 & just under 4 minutes for 1500. I was really an 800 man through & through but I enjoyed the 4x400 relays too.”

“ You still get excitement with the sport!”

“ I think what we must try and do, as athletes don’t seem to want to compete, you have to go after them. On the whole it is very different to being a club Manager when, you just turn up at the track on a Tuesday and Thursday to be able to pick the team (which Richard used to do with Highgate Harriers for quite a few years…He continued “whereas, with Middlesex, you have to do it with emails.”

On The First Day’s athletics on Saturday the 11th of May, at Lee Valley, it was in glorious sunshine and not too hot. Despite what the late ‘Great’ Middlesex Official, Roy Stratton said about Team Mangers of clubs and individual coaches don’t encourage athletes to compete in the County events. It was interesting to hear the fast 100 ‘Under 17’ hurdles winner, Montana Dennis, although he had been encouraged not to compete, because he had a groin injury he was so very keen to do the County under 17 race and, still won in the good time of 14.19, His best was 13.7 two weeks prior to the race. That was the first interesting thing to see on the day and it was followed by first year ‘under 20’ hurdler Troy Corlis winning the senior & combined Under ‘20’ 110 hurdles and, quite near the end of the day, in the 400 Men’s Final was Michael Shonibare. He was first in his heat in 47.46 and in the final he won in 47.75. “It was good to get my lane 3 and gauge the race as, all season, that includes in America I had been drawn in 7,8 or 9. The 400 runner he most admired, because of the way he ran, was Quincy Watts, the Olympic Champion in 1992. Another surprise was Larrisa Wilson, who was celebrating her birthday that day. She did a personal best 400 to win in 57.4 but had not done the event for two years as, she considered more as an 800 runner. The most competitive event over the years at county level, has been the sprints so Phoenix Lyon, did very well to win the 100 senior race in a personal best time of 10.63 and the next day on the Sunday, he won the 200 in 21.2 but, he is coached by a Master of sprinting Linford Christie for a few years. “Linford tries to get me to have the same mind set and get focused in races.” An impressive finish was put in by Dylan Lewis. As a14 year old, he did 4:17.05 for 1500 and, got away from the opposition in the home straight in the ‘U15’s He said “1500 is my best distance as I don’t’ go well at cross-country”. The Men’s shot and discus were good wins for Andre Preriera Carneiro, coached by by Barry Herrington, Andre did 11.20 & 41.6.respectively. The senior women’s shot was a good friendly competition and, won by Makayla Joseph with a personal best of 13.90.