Guernsey Press

Hampshire Championships provide ‘a gateway to real athletics’ says Druce

GUERNSEY will be going into the big Hampshire Track and Field Championships weekend with a particularly youthful squad.

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Shot-putter Steven Marley is in the Guernsey contingent heading to the Hampshire Championships. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 33210635)

And that is not a bad thing, athletics development officer Tom Druce feels.

There are 35 Sarnians on the entry list for the annual competition at Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre, spanning Saturday and Sunday, but U13s and U15s make up the bulk of that and comparatively few seniors will be competing.

‘It’s a very youthful-looking team,’ Druce said.

‘It’s probably a bit of a return to what the championships should be.’

Although Guernsey has had a fairly strong senior presence in recent editions, Druce has highlighted the championships’ role in introducing young athletes to higher levels of competition.

‘It’s a gateway into real athletics, and that’s where we are seeing the main bulk of the team this year, really,’ he added.

‘After Guernsey 2023, it’s definitely an opportunity to look to the next generation.

‘We are only sending those that we feel will have a positive experience. I know that’s vital.

‘We are still seeing good numbers in those two age groups [U13 and U15], and it’s an important weekend for the club.’

The squad retains the youth bias seen in the first two domestic track and field fixtures this season, which Druce had dubbed the ‘Guernsey 2023 effect’.

Guernsey have a habit of bringing back titles and medals through the age groups – not all of them from expected sources.

U17 Edie Dorrian and U20 Emily Pike are the most proven of the junior competitors at senior level, having competed at last year’s home Island Games.

Shot-putter Steven Marley and triple-jumper Holly Drake are also among the Games athletes who are set to compete on the county stage at the weekend.

Although Games runners Nix Petit and Jack Le Tissier are on the entry list, both have been struggling with injuries.