ATHLETICS: Ash storms to national gold

GOLDEN BOY: Ashley Sandall
GOLDEN BOY: Ashley Sandall

Rising star Ashley Sandall further enhanced his growing reputation by winning the England Athletics under-17 400m title on Sunday.

The Gosberton pace-ace smashed a Nene Valley Harriers club record and set the UK’s top time of the year en-route to gold at the Sheffield EIS event.

Coached by Dave Clay, 16-year-old Sandall eased his way through the heats and semi-finals on Saturday, running within himself and recording times of 50.75secs and 49.78secs on his way to comfortable wins.

The South Holland flier then took control of Sunday’s final at the break. He held off the challenge of the silver medallist throughout the second lap, taking gold with a time of 49.14secs.

The record-shattering time also retains his top spot in the UK rankings.

A delighted Sandall, who also topped the podium at the Birmingham Games a few weeks earlier, said: “I was very pleased with my performance overall.

“I won my heat with comfort and was very happy with my time in the semi-final because this was a comfortable sub-50 for me.

“I then raced the final the following day and I was delighted with how I performed, running a personal best time to take the national championship.

“I am also still UK number one and I now aim to train hard for the outdoor season.”

Nene Valley were well-represented in other events at Sheffield too. Kane Wright, competing in the under-20 60m, qualified for the semi-final with a time 7.13secs that was marginally short of his personal best.

He then repeated the feat in the semi-final, running a consistent time of 7.15secs, but failed to make the final.

Jasmine Allen and Alex Pullan, meanwhile, were both in the under-15 girls’ 60m.

Allen, a first year under-15, had an extremely tough heat which included the UK number one, the Welsh champion and the Surrey county champion.

Although she didn’t qualify, her fourth-placed finish with a time of 8.42secs was marginally short of the 22-year-old club record.

Pullan ran her heat just as well and was also in the mix with a time of 8.48secs – suggesting the future is bright for the Harriers’ track team.

The other Nene Valley competitor was Maria Hollingsworth in the under-20 ladies’ 60m hurdles. She ran well after a poor start to finish fifth in her heat in 9.04secs.