Guernsey Press

Clean sweep of Hampshire golds for versatile Emil

Aspiring decathlete Emil Friedrich won five golds out of five at the big Hampshire Track & Field Championships weekend.

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Guernsey's under-15 gold medallists, left to right: Amelie Van Heerden, Emil Friedrich and Nikola Vagule. (Picture by Jamie Ingrouille, 33225018)

Guernsey headed to Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Centre armed with a particularly youthful squad for this centenary edition of the annual championships, reflecting the transitional nature seen in domestic athletics following last year’s great home Island Games.

Jack Le Tissier scored the sole senior gold for the island, while U15s Amelie Van Heerden and Nikola Vagule claimed one win apiece in their age group.

But Friedrich, also an U15 athlete, was as relentless as the spring sunshine that bathed the venue across both days of competition.

On Saturday, he raced to 200m victory in a big personal best of 24.26sec.

That was despite, like other sprint races over the weekend, the added resistance of a mild headwind.

He missed his initial medal ceremony, though, as he was soon back out throwing in – and dominating – the discus. His 31.53m hurl was a 4m PB.

Friedrich kept the medal train running with a 37.40 in Sunday’s 300m, smashing his own Guernsey U15 record by over 1sec. and beating second place by nearly 6sec.

Although his PB magic wore off, he still won the 80m hurdles in 12.90 and shot put with 9.57m.

‘Absolutely brilliant – five out of five,’ said an athlete who still has another season in this age group.

‘I came here and thought maybe I’d get a bronze in one or two, maybe a lucky gold.

‘I’m absolutely amazed – exceeded it.’

In the longer term, he is hoping to put his versatility to good use.

‘In the future, I do want to enter decathlon,’ he added.

‘I always love to have all my options open, so I think that’ll be a perfect event for me.’

Van Heerden struck 200m gold with a PB of 26.81 on the Sunday, adding to the previous afternoon’s 100m silver.

Vagule was the other golden girl of the age group. She edged Jersey’s Autumn Clementine Carro by one-hundredth to win Saturday’s 75m hurdles, taking runner-up in the high jump that same afternoon.

Also in the U15s, James Stafford-Bell lost a duel to Jersey’s Zane Simpson over 3,000m but was still credited silver in his first race over the distance.

U13 Edward Field also claimed a silver – in unusual circumstances.

The middle-distance events for younger athletes unfolded as time-trials across multiple races, but he won his 800m heat and ducked under the 2-30 barrier to be awarded silver.

U20 Nic Ackermann had run a bold 800m race and emerged with an age-group bronze, the same colour as that claimed by U17 sprinter Edie Dorrian over 100m and U13 Freddy Scanlan in the high jump.

Of Guernsey’s small senior contingent, Le Tissier took the spotlight through a surprisingly commanding 3,000m steeplechase victory.

Jack Le Tissier on his way to senior steeplechase gold. (Picture by Jamie Ingrouille, 33225010)

His position on the start line was in jeopardy due to hip issues that had impacted his training.

But after lining up, he never looked in doubt and even his comparatively tame 10-21.79 clocking headed his nearest opponent by over 50sec.

Fellow Games athlete Holly Drake came out with bronze in a triple jump competition performed into the same modest headwinds that troubled the sprinters.