Big Guernsey contingent heading to Hampshire Championships
GUERNSEY’S senior athletes will be out in force at this weekend’s Hampshire Track and Field Championships.
And that is exactly what athletics development officer Tom Druce wants to see with the Island Games on the horizon.
Overall, 20 male and 24 female athletes are set to represent the island in the annual two-day meet at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre, a trip that usually produces a healthy medal haul for the Sarnians.
While that number is slightly above average, it also includes proven quality from several U20 and senior athletes on the register for the home Games in two months’ time.
‘From my perspective, the uptake from our senior athletes is higher than normal, which maybe is a reflection of the build-up to the Island Games and people taking the opportunity,’ Druce said.
‘It’s great to see a good number of people going into the event because it’s a championship environment – a bit below the Island Games, but it’s still big competition experience in the build-up.
‘It’s good for people to put themselves out there and test themselves against people they have never met.
‘That’s a key thing ahead of the Island Games.’
Commonwealth Games sprinter Abi Galpin is Guernsey’s big-name entry for the weekend, but she is not guaranteed to compete amid foot injury concerns.
But providing a solid backbone to the squad are Games-level athletes ranging from middle and long distance track racing to field events.
Richard Bartram heads in as the leading senior middle-distance prospect after showing outstanding form over the last nine months, while Nix Petit and Emma Etheredge go in the equivalent women’s races.
The throws will feature Guernsey’s leading figures in their respective events, namely javelin star James Bougourd, hammer record-holder Sia Banbury, and the same Steven Marley who recently achieved the major personal milestone of a Games shot put standard at the last qualifying opportunity.
The senior field entry also includes Sofia Mella and Holly Drake taking to the horizontal jumps.
At U20 level, previous 800m medallists Gian-Luca Robilliard and Kate Bain make their return and are backed by training ally Jack Le Tissier as he takes on the steeplechase.
Several young sprinters who have been pushing for individual and relay spots at the Games also feature.