Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC

2023 European Masters Track and Field Championships

Blackheath and Bromley Masters Athletes bring home the hardware

At the end of September, six members of Blackheath and Bromley Harriers made the trek to Pescara, Italy, to compete in the European Masters Track and Field Championships.

Pescara is a seaside town on the Adriatic coast made for lounging about on the beach, drinking aperitivos and wearing sunglasses, stylishly. Not why we came. The beach and the sea were great for evening dips to refresh our bodies but we were in Pescara for business.

Duayne Bovell (M35) had the most success. Beating his French rival to the line in a hotly contested 100m final, Duayne got revenge for his 4th place in the world indoor championships in Torun, Poland, earlier in the year by securing 3rd place. He went on to make the 200m final but withdrew from the final to save his legs for the 4×100 relay where he would be running the anchor leg for Team GB. Unfortunately Duayne turned his ankle on his way to the call room. Too late for a substitution, he ran to keep his team mates in the competition and despite visibly favouring his ankle, he managed to hold on for a silver medal.

Samantha Williams (W40) was making her debut as an international masters athlete in Pescara. Only 9 months into her return to the sport, Sam, who had already won a silver medal in the National Championship earlier in the summer, ran a really strong heat to qualify for the 400m final the next day. A strong start put her in the mix during the final but a medal wasn’t to be on the day. With a full winter of training under her belt, Sam is definitely going to be a medal contender on the international scene in 2024!

Steve Langdon (M65) fresh off winning gold in the javelin at the National Championships went into the European champs with hopes of a podium. Steve didn’t quite match his season’s best performance of 41.65 (which puts him first in the UK rankings for 2023) but he did finish a creditable 6th to back up his 5th place from the Worlds in Torun from earlier in the season.

I (Ian Firla, M50) came into the Europeans with the ambition of “getting around” the 400m hurdles and making the semi-finals of the flat 400. A recent convert from the marathon, I have been enjoying scoring PBs over the last two seasons in events that are new to me. I managed to come 10th in Europe in the 400 hurdles and made the semi-final of the flat 400 scoring two more personal bests along the way to round out a great season.

Richard Holt (M50) came to Pescara for the 400m hurdles. His experience and pedigree (as well as national championship medals) had him targeting the final but a season plagued with injuries and a slightly mis-timed finishing kick meant that he finished 9th and just missed out on the final.

Finally, Louisa Vallins (W45) was targeting multiple medals at the championship. Ranked 1st in Europe in the 100 and 3rd in the 200, individual and relay medals were the target. Unfortunately, an achilles injury that she was desperately trying to heal before the championship didn’t allow her to get beyond the warm-up for her first event. Prudently, she pulled out before her first heat and is now targeting the World Champs in Sweden where she will be going in as one of the medal favourites.

The European Masters Indoor Championships in Torun, Poland, in March as well as the World Masters Track and Field Champs in August in Sweden will mean that you are likely to see all of our Masters athletes out on the track and in the gym training hard with the young athletes as we prepare ourselves to go after our next goals.

– Ian Firla

Blackheath & Bromley News Desk

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