Mary’s complete set

Southampton Athletic Club president, Mary Axtell is celebrating winning a complete set of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the category for female athletes over 75 years of age at the European Masters Athletics Championships in Copenhagen . Mary’s treasure hunt started on Saturday 29th July with Bronze in the 100 metres. That was former PE teacher Mary’s first international medal in a career that began in the 1950s and being guided in earlier years by coaching great, the late Mike Smith. Clearly enjoying the glint of precious metal, Mary was by now on a roll. Just a few days later, she was back on track, claiming a silver in the 200 metres before combining with her GB team mates to win gold in the sprint relay.
Mary is an inspiration to everyone at the club and in particular to the younger sprinters with her dedication to training, even accompanying her group, many of whom are teenagers,  for a warm weather training trip to Crete this year, perseverance in the face of injury and steely competitiveness. Mary is in no mood to retire just yet, already serving notice to her coaching team that she has set her sights on the European indoor Masters Championships to be held in March 2018 in Madrid.

Sara & Gary MacDonald-Gray

Mary with her medals

Dave Henson’s rise to SACs most successful sprinter

Dave Henson this week quietly went about establishing himself as the most successful sprinter in the history of Southampton Athletic Club.

In the various incarnations of the club, no athlete has ever achieved greater individual success than Dave. He has improved rapidly and massively since entering the sport as recently as 2014, Henson’s rise has been meteoric. In 2015 he stepped onto the world stage, fighting his way to 7th place in the 200 metres final of the IPC world championships in Doha.

In 2016, Dave stepped onto the biggest stage of all. Following his 200 metres silver medal at the European IPC championships in Grosseto, Italy, Dave then moved on to Rio to win Paralympic 200 metres Bronze in a fine 24.74 seconds.

In 2017, having improved his 200 metres personal best by another half second, to 24.25 sec, Dave took dead aim at a World Championships medal on home soil. On Saturday 15th July Dave cemented his place amongst the elite of world sprinting with another Bronze in the T42 200 metres final in 24.73 seconds behind GB team mate Richard Whitehead . Henson’s trajectory of improvement shows no sign of levelling off and Dave can look forward further honours in the next four year cycle of major championships.

Gary MacDonald-Gray

Bromby strides into Euro Final

Southampton’s Oli Bromby strode confidently into the European Under 20 Athletics Championships 100 metres final in Grosseto, Italy this evening.
After a steady first round heat in the morning, Bromby knew that he needed to make a statement in this evening’s Semi-Final to guarantee a centre lane in the Final. The pressure was on after GB team mates Rechmial Miller (recurrence of a calf injury) and Dom Ashwell ( with an uncharacteristically poor start) had been eliminated in the first two Semi’s. Unfazed, Bromby led from the start to canter through the finish line in a controlled 10.54 seconds from the fast closing Finn Samuel Purola.
In the final on Friday, Bromby is drawn in the adjacent lane to the clear favourite, home town boy Fillipo Tortu. A medal is a realistic prospect, but with tightly packed quality opposition, a place in the top half dozen European speedsters would be a good result.
European Athletics will be streaming the final at 16:30 BST.

Sara & Gary MacDonald-Gray

Picture: Oli out in front in his 100m Semi-Final.