Presidents Review of the Year 2016


President’s Review of the Year – 12 November 2016

Download the PDF version here.

Bournemouth Athletic Club continues to be very active, competing in five separate track and field leagues, plus one road and two cross country leagues, and, for the youngsters, SportsHall and QuadKids, hosting, today, a fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League, and during the summer numerous track and field league fixtures, all at Kings Park, organising two very successful Open Meetings, and, for the second year, the equally successful Bournemouth 10 mile road race, plus the immensely popular Junior Development Evenings each Wednesday.  Our athletes represent the club both in this country and abroad, in International, National and School competitions, and in races, including marathons and ultra-distance, in various countries.  And that’s not to mention the routine coaching and training which goes on every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

I’d like to start by picking up a theme I mentioned last year – the Hampshire Cross Country League, in which BAC’s men compete in Division 1.  A year ago, I bemoaned the fact that, after two fixtures, we were looking at relegation to Division 2.  Well, that all changed in the remaining three fixtures.  Some spectacular runs pulled us from deep relegation trouble to two places above the relegation zone.  Without taking away from the contribution of the other athletes, without whom we would not have had full teams, David Long and Rob McTaggart in the last three fixtures, and Steve Way and Graham Robinson in two of them, were the athletes who rescued us.  It was otherwise a good season in the Hampshire Cross Country League for BAC, with the male veterans achieving a season placing for the first time in years, 3rd in Division 2, and the ladies again achieving season placings, the Senior Women 5th and the Veteran Women an amazing 2nd.  In what is a high quality League, David Long did well to finish as 4th Senior man for the season, as did Nikki Sandell – 4th Veteran Lady.  We don’t have many youngsters competing in Cross Country – but we do have Bridget Dence.  In the English Schools Cross Country Championships at Nottingham in February, Bridget was 33rd of 307 Senior Girls, and was 2nd Dorset girl in a Dorset team which was 9th of 37 counties, ahead of, amongst others, such mighty counties as Hampshire, Metropolitan Counties of London and Greater Manchester.  In a rare excursion on to the track, Bridget ran a Championship Best Performance in the Junior Woman 1500m at the County Track and Field Championships at Kings Park in May.  Also, this time last year, I was able to report that both the Mens’ and the Ladies’ teams had won the Dorset Road Race League with two races still to go.  Well, it’s exactly the same this year, both teams are League Champions for 2016.  Jon Sharkey is the Individual Champion of the Road Race League, despite missing the last three races of the year following the birth of his son – congratulations, Jon, on both counts.  Staying with the road, there are County Championship medals for various distances, with BAC winners amongst them.  At 10 miles, Steve Way and Gemma Bragg won gold medals, for the Marathon, there were gold medals for Jon Sharkey and Simon Way and bronze for Anthony Clark, in the 10k Championship race Jon Sharkey and Emma Dews won gold and Nikki Sandell won bronze, and, for the Half Marathon, there were gold medals for Josh Cole and Sanjai Sharma.  There have been some outstanding individual performances during the year.  Anthony Clark represented England at the Anglo-Celtic 100k Plate competition in March, finishing 4th overall, missing bronze by 32 seconds.  Anthony was the second Englishman of the team of 4, which was the winning team, so Anthony did finish up with a team gold medal.  Pat Robbins won the 100 mile Arc of Attrition race in February around the Cornish coast.  In March, Steve Way won the Barry 40 mile track race, 161 laps of a track, in a new world V40 record of seconds under 4 hours.  The London Marathon in April was also the England Athletics Marathon Championships – practically every club in England had teams, with BAC’s team of Steve Way, Jacek Cieluszecki and Toby Chapman finishing as third team – an incredible achievement – and have the medals to prove it, also there is a club bronze medal which is here for you to inspect.  Steve Way‘s time resulted in his being ranked number 1 V40 marathon runner in the country, and another number 1 ranking from the London Marathon was Sanjai Sharma, the top V55 marathon runner in the country.  Jez Bragg was the 2nd Brit in the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, Italy, 119 kilometres, in June, and, on the same day, running a mere 42 kilometres, marathon distance, Toby Chapman was 1st Brit in the Mont Blanc Marathon.  More recently, Peter Thompson won the New Forest Marathon in September, and then went on to win the Isle of Wight Marathon in October.  In August, Nick Kenchington won the 32 mile Dorset Doddle along the very lumpy Dorset coastline and in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, also in August, Rob McTaggart, in his first completed marathon, won the award as 1st Brit and Emma Dews defied her veteran status to win the award as 1st Lady overall.  Abroad, BAC vests were to be seen in the Berlin Marathon – Caroline Rowley, and in the Philadlephia Half Marathon David Long was 18th in a field of over 12 thousand.  David went on to compete in two 8k races in the USA, finishing 7th in one and winning the other.  In September, after a break of several years, at long last BAC fielded a Senior Mens’ team in the South of England Road Relays, this year at Bedford instead of Aldershot – not a great result, but we were there!

Now I’d like to talk about a topic which is dear to all of our hearts – money!  This club costs an incredible £45,000 or so each year to run, and these costs are incurred throughout the year – from January to December, not just during the summer season.  New training equipment can and is bought at any time and of course we pay for the use of the track every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, winter and summer.  This money has to come from somewhere and the main source of income is, as you’d expect, subscriptions.  So it really is important that subscriptions are renewed as and when they’re due, at the beginning of the year, which the vast majority of our members do.  But some need chasing.  It shouldn’t be necessary to chase payment of subscriptions – it’s no-one’s job to do this, but the membership secretary and team managers, who already have enough to do, spend a lot of time chasing the late payers, and, increasingly, including road and cross country, it’s becoming impossible to compete unless and until subscriptions have been renewed, and the EA licence fee paid.  Subscriptions haven’t been increased for some years, and won’t be for next year, and that’s because there are some other sources of income, which I’d like to mention as it highlights some of the hard work which is being done.  Every Wednesday, over 100 children attend at BAC’s Junior Development Evenings at the track.  This is a fantastic operation, so popular that, when the system was changed to require parents to pay in advance for 10 week blocks, the first block was over-subscribed the moment registration for it opened.  These evenings are a team effort, coaches and administration people all working unbelievably hard, time forbids me mentioning them all, but it’s all led by Tom Cochrane, who does this in addition to his role as coaches representative, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the club’s qualified coaches, and coaching himself on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Tom was up at Kings Park at 8 am this morning, in the pouring rain, helping to lay out the course for the Hampshire Cross Country League.  It’s a by-product, but a fortunate one, that the Development Evenings are a major source of income for the club.  We run two successful and profitable Open Meetings at Kings Park in the Spring and Autumn, the driving force behind those being Hazel Bates, with Wynne Munden, Robin James, Trish Hammas and Paula Broom playing a large part, all of whom have other extensive roles in the club.  You’ll have noticed the arrival of two containers at Kings Park this year, purchased, along with a substantial amount of equipment, with a grant from England Athletics.  This grant was unlocked because this year the club’s Clubmark accreditation was renewed, thanks to a lot of hard work by Robin James, who, as the club’s chairman, does a great deal on behalf of the club including, with Wynne, our tireless secretary, attending what are probably very stressful meetings with Bournemouth Borough Council on our behalf.  Once the Clubmark accreditation is obtained, the next trick is knowing how to extract the money from England Athletics and this was done thanks to the expertise of Tony Jones-Pert.  Tony is another stalwart of the club, regularly coaching, and also running the Special Olympics, which provides so many fantastic opportunities to those athletes who, despite their disabilities, are a joy to watch training and competing.  The Bournemouth 10 mile road race made a small profit in 2014, but this year made a significant contribution to the club’s finances, many thanks to everyone involved in that, but especially to Ian White and Sam Laws, whose lives must almost be dominated by this race.  Every Tuesday and Thursday, whatever the weather, William Kearsey can be found at the entrance to the track, collecting the track fees, which amount to a considerable sum of money which otherwise would probably be lost.   Of course, there are a lot of people without whom the club would collapse whose activities don’t raise money.  I’d like to thank the Executive Committee – all of them – maybe the key members are Robin as Chairman, Wynne as Club Secretary, Ian as Treasurer and Dave Parsons as Membership Secretary.  I’d like to thank Chris O’Brien, who so efficiently administers the club website.  I’d like to thank all the team managers and coaches, again it would be great if I had time to mention them all, but, amongst the coaches, perhaps I could pick out, for their loyalty year after year, Brian Johnson, Mick Willis, Brian Camp and Dave Pain, and also Zac Kerin, again this year selected for international duties, at the U18 European Championships in Georgia, and at the Elan International Meeting in Bratislava, where one of his athletes, Naomi Ogbeta, jumped to a new British Junior Triple Jump record.

So we turn to track and field.  I have to start with the promotion of our BAL team to Division 2 of this National League, having won two of the fixtures during the season, at Kings Park and the final fixture at Yeovil.  It’s impossible to list all the highlights from the BAL season, but I would like to mention James Lelliott, a points machine with some top quality performances, for instance, at Kings Park, which was typical of the other fixtures, James achieved two Grade 1 results, two Grade 2 results and one Grade 3 result, as well as competing in two further events!  Make no mistake, our BAL squad is a quality team, competing next season amongst the top 36 clubs in the country – almost emulating, I have to say this, our womens’ team of many years ago who, under the management of Mick Willis, were amongst the top 16 womens’ teams in the country.  In those days the womens’ teams consisted of all ages, not just seniors, and one of our athletes competing then was a very young Jemma Bates!  I’ve mentioned James Lelliott, but there were numerous other Grade 1 performances by our BAL athletes during the season, including Andrew Brown, Scott Rutter and Patrick Sylla, all of whom have achieved Grade 2 performances as well, and, at Bournemouth, two Grade 2 performances from Kevin Hodgson.  At Yeovil, Alex Cox‘s High Jump was a Grade 2 height, and there were Grade 3 performances from Adam Carpenter, Tawanda Murape and Karl Welch, whilst the relay team of James, Kevin, Adam and Patrick achieved a new 4 x 100 club record at Yeovil.  All-in-all a great season for BAC’s BAL team, and a huge credit to their team manager, Tim Hughes, and their Captain, Kevin Hodgson, whose motivational speeches I was again privileged to hear at Yeovil.  Moving on to other teams, I think it’s fair to say that the situation is better this year than it was last year, but a picture which does emerge is the difficulty we have in persuading our youngsters to compete in any number.  The Wessex Young Athletes League finished 21st equal of 23 teams, with QuadKids amongst a cluster of Dorset clubs at the bottom of the table.  BAC would probably have finished bottom of the Wessex Young Athletes League had it not been for the U17 Women, who, of the 23 teams, were 12th, and the U15 Girls, who were 9th.  In the Youth Development Upper and Lower Leagues we competed in the the lowest regional division as a composite team with New Forest Juniors, and in both leagues finished 4th of 6 teams.  Things were a little brighter for the Southern Athletic League, in which we compete in Division 3 South West, where we finished 9th of 16 teams, and actually won one of the fixtures, with, along the way, Danielle Broom winning woman of the match at Ashdown, and Robert Woolgar man of the match at Worthing.  There have, however, been numerous superb individual performances – too numerous to list every one of these.  Luke Sinnott, our guest last year, won gold and silver medals at the Invictus games in Florida in May, with Luke‘s family featured in one of the BBC’s programmes reporting the games, and Luke specifically mentioned by Prince Harry in his closing speech.  Luke missed out on selection for the Rio Paralympic Games, with all the talent around it’s very difficult to break into this, but watch out for Luke at the World Championships in London next year. We had numerous athletes competing, and winning, in schools championships – I’ll quickly list the winners at the Dorset Schools Championships in June, Patrick Sylla, Lewis Sainval, Oliver Hassan, Chloe Burrows, Gemma Kennard, Abigail Richardson, Poppaea Bramwell-Reeks, Yasmin Bridet, Olivia Galloway, Angel Kerin, Izzy Wedderburn, Madeleine Smith, Amelia Dobson, Serena Sutherland, Danielle Broom, Adam Phillips, Cameron Hale and Ben Dickinson, with Patrick, Izzy and Danielle achieving Championship Best Performances, in Izzy‘s case one which had stood since 1981.  Several of these athletes were selected to represent Dorset at English Schools at Gateshead in July, Danielle, Olivia, Cameron, Angel, Madeleine, Patrick, Izzy and Yasmin, with Iona Sheerin and Jack Davies selected for Hampshire.  At English Schools Combined Events at Exeter in September, Cameron Hale won a silver medal in the Boys’ Octathlon, helped by an amazing Javelin throw of 59.38 and PBs in the 400m, 1500m and 100m hurdles.  There was a rumour he was selected to represent English Schools – not sure what happened to that.  At the South West Schools Championships in Exeter in June, there were wins for Cameron Hale, Olivia Galloway and two for Danielle Broom, with good performances from Joe Haywood, Chloe Burrows, Gemma Kennard, Elle Ward, Yasmin Bridet and Millie Lynk.  BAC athletes won numerous medals at the County Championships at Kings Park in May – too numerous to mention, but I will list them on the copy of this Review which I’ll put on the club website.  Dan Brumsden broke the long-standing club Shot Put record at the Spring Open in June – a record previously held by Paul Rees.  Phoebe Dowson, returning to the UK from the USA for the summer, won a silver medal for Discus at the U23 UK Championships, and at the British Championships was 4th, within scratching distance of the podium.  Not strictly speaking athletics, but Anya Kay has been selected as brakewoman for the Great Britain bobsleigh team in Europa Cup competitions and World Junior Championships in Europe, and will be competing in a World Cup competition in Canada – on Christmas Day!  It looks as if our special guest, Paddy Pepper, whom we will be welcoming and introducing shortly, will be responsible for a new paralympic discipline at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo – more about that later.  To conclude on track and field there have been, I believe, three of our athletes who’ve been prominent this year – I imagine we’ll hear more about them during the presentations, so I can be brief.  We have a British Champion in Janet Dickinson.  Janet is the British W45 Heptathlon Champion having won gold at the BMAF Heptathlon Championships in Birmingham in July.  Also, having competed in a tetradecathlon in the European Ultra Multi Events competition in Cambridge in July, of the 14 events undertaken over two days, Janet finished up with in-event world records for her age category in 100m and Long Jump.  Janet also coaches; amongst her athletes is Ron Danville, not a BAC member, but worth a mention as he won Bronze medals in Javelin and Discus in the UK Transplant Games, all off Janet‘s coaching.  Janet also helps with the club’s administration, bringing a great deal of technical knowledge to the Executive Committee meetings, plus Janet is the club’s statistician, an important role which had been unfilled for some time – the result of Janet‘s work is there for all to see on the club’s website.  We have another National Champion in Danielle Broom.  Having won the competition at the England Athletics U15/U17 Championships at Bedford in August, Danielle is the National U17 Womens’ Discus Champion.  Danielle won the Discus competition for her country, England, at the British Schools International at Ashford in July with a final throw of 40.93 – her second throw of 39.97 would have won the competition!  Danielle has broken three club records – again, and has numerous Championship Best Performances.  I’ll mention just two, both at the Dorset Schools Championships at Kings Park in June, the Discus, previous best from 1974 was smashed by Danielle so will probably stand for many years, and the Hammer which broke the previous best from 2015, a best which had been held by – Danielle Broom!  The third athlete whose name kept cropping up during the season was Patrick Sylla.  Just some of Patrick‘s achievements – his Long Jump at the County Track and Field Championships  was a Junior Man Championship Best Performance, breaking a previous best which had stood since 1983.  At the Loughborough International meeting in May his Long Jump placed him 5th in the Senior Men field, even though he’s an U20 category.  In June, at the Dorset Schools Championships, Patrick‘s jump of 7.61 broke a previous Championship Best which had stood since 1984, and had been held by BAC’s Ian Ward.  This jump put Patrick in line for selection for the World U20 Championships, and, despite a bad day at the U20/U23 England Championships, Patrick was selected and competed in Poland in July.  Patrick‘s selection attracted a lot of local media attention, with an interview on BBC Radio Solent, an item on BBC TV’s South Today, and, perhaps Patrick‘s greatest achievement, he even attracted the attention of the Bournemouth Echo, who published an article, despite their normal indifference to local athletics.  Patrick broke the U20 Long Jump club record this season, and, in the National Rankings is, in the Long Jump, number 2 U20, that is in the whole country, Great Britain, and of the Senior Men, which includes everybody, including Greg Rutherford, Patrick is an astonishing 11th, which is amazing.

So, there it is.  Last year I was able to say I had been a member of BAC for almost 30 years.  Now I can say I’ve been a member for over 30 years.  I have been very proud to have served over the last two years as President of this amazing club, with its great facilities – looking at some of the tracks I’ve visited over the years I realise just how lucky we are, and a cross country course alongside.  We have more qualified coaches than we’ve ever had before, there’s plenty of competition for all ages and abilities, and the club is well organised and financially sound, so whoever takes over as President in March takes over a club with an exciting future ahead of it.

Now I come to the President’s award. The road and cross country section of BAC tends to be a rather disparate group, without the focus of the track and field fixtures and leagues in which the rest of the club participates.  The result is that its fortunes ebb and flow.  When I joined the club, it was very strong, dominating the local scene, with many talented distance athletes – John Boyes is one name to mention from that era.  Then it rather faded away, and it took the arrival of Jon Sharkey to bring things back together again, and we had another period of success.  However, a few years ago, things were beginning to go backwards, but were rescued by the arrival of our present road and cross country captain, Richard Nelson.  Rich has been our captain for two or three years now, and has really turned things around, leading to the road and cross country success I’ve already reported on.  His enthusiasm and commitment are infectious.  He encourages people to compete – at the Winchester fixture of the Hampshire Cross Country League we had 14 senior men competing, more than I’ve ever known before, together with a full ladies’ team.  Rich works very hard producing a training schedule which proves extremely  popular, with 25 or so athletes regularly turning up every week, and also encouraging those who come along, having learnt about BAC training on the website, to join, and then compete, with the result that recently we’ve had an influx of new men and lady members, all of whom are very welcome, and some of whom have proved to be quality athletes.  Rich goes beyond the call of duty.  On one occasion, his family were spending the weekend at Bridport, and we had a DRRL race in Portland.  To make sure all those who’d promised to race at Portland did so, and had the transport there, Rich returned from Bridport, leaving at some unearthly hour on the morning of the race, passing near Portland on the way, drove to Kings Park to provide transport, and then drove back to Portland with the team to the race.  It worked – we had numerous individual and team wins!  It’s very difficult deciding to whom to award the President’s Trophy – there are so many worthy candidates, but for the way he has built up the road and cross country section, thus contributing a great deal to the success of the club, it’s my pleasure to award the President’s Trophy to Richard Nelson.

Ian Graham


Bournemouth Athletic Club


At the County Championships there were gold medals for Andrew Sheerin, Patrick Sylla (2), Brandon Meredith, James Newell, Janet Dickinson (4), Bridget Dence, Angel Kerin (2), Charlotte Sidaway, Iona Sheerin (2), Elle Ward (2), Isabelle Franklin, Rob Woolgar, Adam Carpenter, Ben Dickinson, Joseph Haywood, Gemma Kennard, Danielle Broom (2), Amelia Dobson and Tamika Douch.  There were silver medals for Dave Pain (2), Adam Carpenter, Jamie Williamson, Adam Hassan (2), James Newell, Conor Charlwood, Janet Dickinson (2), Madeleine Smith, Olivia Galloway, Izzy Wedderburn (2), Andrew Sheerin, Lewis Sainval, Lewis Wykes, Chloe Burrows, Madeleine Smith, Iona Sheerin, Danielle Broom, Serena Sutherland (2), Elle Ward and Isabelle Franklin.  There were bronze medals for Andrew Sheerin (2), Andrew Speers (2), Samantha Cash (2), Gemma Kennard, Iona Sheerin, Olivia Galloway (2), Yasmin Bridet (3) and Eva Thompson.