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Stratford AC celebrate winning Warwick Vase five years on the bounce

STRATFORD AC won the Warwick Vase for a fifth consecutive year after a brilliant display at the recent Warwickshire County Championships in Nuneaton.

Niamh Hillard and Maisie-Joy Spriggs. Photo: Tilly Campbell
Niamh Hillard and Maisie-Joy Spriggs. Photo: Tilly Campbell

More than 80 club members signed up to compete in the delayed championships and, despite some being unable to compete due to injuries, illness, unavailability, holidays and Covid-19 isolation, the strength in depth of Stratford’s track and field athletes shone through.

Stratford AC returned with an astonishing medal haul of 58, which consisted of 20 golds, 24 silvers and 14 bronzes, but it was the athletes who finished from fourth to eighth in their events who helped the club to a comprehensive win by 140 points over Coventry Godiva Harriers.

Furthermore, Alex McMillan, who was competing in the Worcestershire Championships and won a gold in the U15 javelin and bronze in the high jump, brought the weekend medal total to 60.

In the hurdles, Stratford won medals in every male age group.

U20M Cole Williams and senior Ollie Cresswell were pitted against each other in the 110m hurdles, with Cresswell edging the race in a time of 14.46s and Williams 14.67s – both personal bests and gold medal performances.

U17M Freddie Clemons also won the 100m hurdles in 14.61s.

The female events produced gold medals, with U20F 400m hurdler Millie Leighton winning in 67.93s, as did U13F Annie Silvers in 13.47s, both massive PBs.

On the track, the middle- and long-distance events proved to be another rich vein of success, with Stratford athletes consistently appearing on the podium and picking up important team points.

On top of the podium were Niamh Hillard in the U15F 800m (2:26.12) and Maisie-Joy Spriggs in the U15 girls 1,500m (4:58.60).

Marijke Tear-Verweij. Photo: Tilly Campbell
Marijke Tear-Verweij. Photo: Tilly Campbell

Arguably the outstanding performance on the track by a Stratford athlete came from Marijke Tear-Verweij, who produced a stunning run to win the U13F 1,500m in 5:31.44.

Among some good performances across the sprinters, senior Imogen Sheppard was the leading sprinter after winning gold in the 200m in 25.80s.

The throwers were focused on the javelin and shot, with gold medal-winning performances in the U15F javelin by Nikola Wodzisz (26.05m) and Josh Roberts (45.27m) in the U17M.

In the U13M shot, Ethan Winning won with 8.22m. Winning also set a new 3k county record for U13 boys. The previous record of 7.01m was set by Stratford’s Thomas Weaver in 2019.

Paula Williams. Photo: Tilly Campbell
Paula Williams. Photo: Tilly Campbell

In the senior women’s event, Paula Williams won with 11.42m and the throw set a new masters women’s record.

The long, high and triple jump have always been strong events for Stratford.

In the long jump U20M, Alex Powell (5.64m) and U17M Zach Mckenzie (5.85m) both topped the podium along with U20F Kaili Woodward (4.94m).

The triple jump can be a difficult event to master, but English Schools athletes U20F Millie Leighton (10.83m) and U17M Zach Mckenzie (12.00m) added to their success this season by topping the podium.

Rory Dwyer. Photo: Tilly Campbell
Rory Dwyer. Photo: Tilly Campbell

In recent years Stratford have built a reputation for producing very good high jumpers and two senior athletes continue to set the standard, with Rory Dwyer producing a championship record-equalling jump of 2.10m.

And after sitting on a PB of 1.70m for three years, Emily Madden Forman jumped 1.73m and finally went out at 1.76m to cheers of delight.

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