Monday, May 15, 2006


Athletics Championship in Sussex

Athletics championships in Sussex

This has been one of the big weekends for the amateur athletes of Sussex. Every year they gather and compete for the honour of being County Champion.
Grandad and I have been involved for 25 years. We began as interested parents when J. joined the local club and began to compete. They were golden days when the sport was enjoying growth. J. made lots of friends and the parents formed strong bonds and enjoyed weekends away at meetings with each other.
I have to say that just now the sport at a local level is in decline. There are less athletes competing, so the 2 day event is less busy. There are no longer lots of heats leading to an impressive final.
And from our point of view, it is a problem that there are less people wishing to take part as officials. Gone are the day when 18 or so enthusiastic timekeepers crammed onto the timekeeping steps, willing to work for both days. The numbers are falling drastically. Sadly some of our friends have passed away, leading others of us to treasure life in all its facets and many of us have expanded our interests and have less time for the sport. Where are the new officials? People seem less prepared to give of their time.
On Saturday there were just 7 timekeepers to keep the records of every race. We did a good job and I think there were no complaints.
And it was very pleasant to meet up with our timekeeping friends. Over 20 years we have spent many hours together, working and chatting. We all seem to know each other very well.
The athletics had its golden moments.
Maybe it was the last time that we see Mick Jones throw the hammer. He, at over 40, is still the British record holder and champion. Where is his replacement? He is one of the gentle giants of the sport, a lovely family man and has been attending the County Championships for all the years we have.
There was some evidence of new hopes for the future. A 16 year old lad from Worthing won the 200 metres in 21.73 seconds. If he continues in the sport he certainly has the promise to become a world class athlete.
The weather stayed fine - which is just as well for the timekeepers at the new K2 track in Crawley have no cover to ward off the rain.

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