Stratford AC celebrating a success-filled 2022
THIS year has been an extremely successful one for Stratford AC in terms of both team competitions and individual performances.
And without doubt the crowning glory has been the track and field and cross-country double in the Warwickshire County Championships. In the track and field competition, with more than 90 athletes competing, Stratford won the title for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, claiming 19 gold, 12 silvers and 18 bronzes.
They then followed this up in the cross-country championships as athletes picked up five team golds, three individual golds, four silvers and five bronzes to help Stratford walk away with the Graham Heeley Trophy for the very first time.
There was also international recognition. Andrew Pozzi claimed another national title at the UKA Senior Championships wearing his Stratford vest and also bronze in the 110m hurdles final at the Commonwealth Games in August.
At the age of 16, Alex Adams made his international debut in March. Also representing their country were Matt Burdus-Cook and Ben Kruze in June and again in September, where they were joined by clubmate Kate Wright.
Two highlights of the calendar were the club championships and the annual awards. In September, more 200 members competed in the championships and in November, over 300 attended the award night with Pozzi presenting many of the accolades. The male and female junior athletes of the year were Adams and Catherine Reynolds with their senior equivalents being Burdus-Cook and Emma Bexson.
In track and field, the British University & College Sports Championships (BUCS) started the season off with Emily Madden Forman taking bronze in the high jump and Rory Dwyer clinching silver in the high jump.
Lewis Byng added the England Athletic senior shot put title to his U23 crown and he also broke the world deadlift record by lifting 411kgs.
Also topping the world rankings for her age group in August was Paula Williams in the shot put.
She had another great year by winning two golds and three silvers at the British Masters Athletic Indoor T&F Championships, seven golds in the Midlands T&F Championships and five golds and a silver at the British Masters T&F Championships.
Zach McKenzie won bronze in the U17 triple jump at the England Athletics U15/17/20 Indoor Championships, Millie Leighton (triple jump) and George Fox-Rowe (high jump) represented England Midlands at the U20 Welsh International, while 90 juniors competed in the Heart of England League and won the championship.
The veterans track and field team finished second and Elaine Ledden was female athlete of the year in South Division. The Midlands League team had a nail-biting end to the season. In the final fixture, needing to finish second to gain promotion, they finished in joint-second with the same number of league points as Cheltenham but ultimately lost out on match points (somewhat similar to goal difference). Elsewhere, 40 members ran the Stratford half or full marathon with some 40 also competing in the club-organised Hilly 100.
There were also club representatives who were part of the volunteering team for the Commonwealth Games.
Emma Sparrow (medal ceremonies team), Michael Lane (athlete services), Mandy Newton (production runner) and Lynne Sumners (event services at Leamington) all played their part, while Stratford AC chairman Paul Hawkins ran a leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay in July.
It was also a successful year for the club’s triathletes.
Fern Hordern won bronze in both the European Triathlon Multi Sports Championships and Standard Distance World Duathlon Championships, while Bexson competed in the Ironman World Championships and Ironman Lanzarote.
Rachel Pearce took part in the World Sprint Triathlon Championships, Neil Gardiner in the Triathlon Standard Distance World Championships, Ben Phyall in the European Aquabike Middle Distance Championships and Paul Faithfull in an Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race in Utah.
It was a special year for rising triathlon star Charly Marshall, 17, who was first lady in the Stratford Triathlon and achieved her ambition of a top ten ranking in the Super Series. Meanwhile, Kim and Joe Lee cycled the 874 miles from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
The club’s junior cross-country team, competing in the West Midlands Young Athletes Cross-Country League, finished fourth out of 21 in the 21-22 season and with two fixtures of the current season remaining, are hopeful of going one better and finishing in third place.
Maisie-Joy Spriggs and Maddie Linfoot qualified to compete in the London Mini Marathon,
The club’s free to enter Couch to 5k programme saw two groups complete the nine-week course by graduating at the Stratford parkrun.
In December the club took over the running of the local event for a week.
There was success in the Warwickshire Road Race League with the men’s senior and masters teams finishing in second and first places respectively.
Burdus-Cook was the overall male winner with top five category places for Richard Liggatt, Alex Pester, Max Ross, Peter Sugden, Linfoot and Susan Hunt. Early December also saw the club host both ladies’ and men’s senior cross-country league fixtures on the Welcombe Hills.