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Stratford athletes claim hat-trick of medals at World Championships

Stratford AC’s medal winners Phil Brennan, Paula Williams and Paul Hawkins.
Stratford AC’s medal winners Phil Brennan, Paula Williams and Paul Hawkins.

STRATFORD AC athletes returned with a haul of three medals from the World Masters Athletics Track & Field Championships.

More than 8,000 athletes, representing 103 countries, took part in the biennial championships in Malaga.

Paula Williams, Phil Brennan and Paul Hawkins were competing just a couple of weeks after the end of a successful T&F season for the club’s veteran team.

For the trio, the championships really did get off to a flying start, with Paula Williams winning a bronze medal in her age group in the javelin with a British W45 record throw of 38.65m.

It was then on to the track for the first of Brennan’s seven races during the championships. He qualified for the 800m final in a time of 3:03.33, before going on to finish sixth in the final, recording a time of 2:58.58, his best time for two years and an M75 club record.

Twenty-four hours later Brennan was racing again, this time in the 5,000m. He felt he got his tactics wrong in this race by spending too long behind another runner before overtaking him. His time of 23:16.10 placed him sixth in the A final, a race dominated by British athletes, who occupied the first two places.

Williams then qualified comfortably for the 80m hurdles final by finishing second in her heat in a time of 13.04. The following day, in a hotly-contested final, Hawkins finished equal fourth in an improved time of 12.76, just 0.27 of a second off another bronze medal.

Three days later, Brennan was on the track again, this time in the heats of the 1500m. He easily qualified in second place with a time of 6:22.33. The next day, in the final, he ran 13 seconds quicker to record a time of 6:09.29, finishing sixth.

It was very much a case of mixed emotions for the third member of SAC to be competing. Hawkins was immeasurably proud to be representing his country for the first time at a global event.

Competing in the 20km race walk he was, however, disqualified. The fact that just over 20 per cent of the starters in this most technical of races were disqualified emphasises just what a difficult discipline race walking is.

As well as the disqualifications, an additional five competitors did not finish, meaning that less than 60 per cent of the entrants who lined up at the start managed to finish the race.

“I’ve had a brilliant few days in Malaga for the World Masters Champs and I’ve been proud to have been in the team with my two fellow members from Stratford AC, who both got to finals and won medals,” said Hawkins.

“Sadly, it wasn’t to be for me. Competing in the 20k race walk, I went through 10k in 66min, which was good for me, no problems and all seemed to be going well. I was then disqualified for a bent knee and was gone at 11k. Really disappointed. I’ll be back though.

“I was pleased with how it was going, the time was good, I felt ok, although it was brutally hot and more significantly humid. I think I was about eighth and the third Brit when I stopped, so we would have won the team gold had I finished.”

The championships finished with the relays and a double success for Phil Brennan. He was selected for both the 4x100m and 4x400m M75 teams and managed to get on the podium in both.

In the 4x100m, he ran the second leg of a race that saw Britain edge out the Chilean team by just 17 hundredths of a second to claim the bronze medal in a time of 1:04.35. In the 4x400m he ran the anchor leg in a team that comfortably won the bronze medal.

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