Gold for Niner in Sussex’s only Track Championship event this Summer

October 7, 2020

Congratulations to our own Thomas Niner who was crowned Sussex 3000m Champion on Sunday, clocking 8:42.10, and to Jamie Knapp who took bronze in 8:55.21, running in torrential rain at the Martin Etchells Memorial Track and Field Challenge at Lewes.

The 3Ks were the last event on a day which had been full of wind, heavy rain and thankfully lots of much-missed athletics following a summer of restrictions.

Even with the awful weather conditions, there were some strong performances on the day.

All six athletes in pool 1 of the javelin threw PBs whilst the big guns were out in force in pool 3. By this point, the wind was at its highest. Dulcie Yelling (Brighton and Hove), who is currently ranked 2nd in the UK (Under 15) threw 39.00, shy of her 42.06 PB but solid considering the conditions.

Wind seriously affected the sprint races but it was amazing to see so many athletes turn out. Fastest 200m on the day was Brighton and Hove U17, Danny Giustiniani in 23.76s.

It was in the 800m heat 7 where the biggest battle of the day came between Brighton and Hove’s Henry Yelling and Crawley’s Thomas Fox. The two pushed each other but it was Yelling who pulled away to clock 2:08.09 to Fox’s 2:09.5.

Sunday’s event was named in memory of county stalwart, Martin Etchells, who sadly died on Sunday, September 6th. A minute’s silence was held and members of Martin’s family attended to present the 3K medals. They were also presented with a cheque for £217.50 for The Friends of Eastbourne Hospital, where Martin spent many years volunteering. This money was raised by a 50p donation which was added to each competitor’s entry. Sussex AA will also be donating £250 to the same charity in memory of Martin.

Fellow Sussex AA stalwart, Reg Hook, spoke on the day. He said: “We want to pay tribute to Martin Etchells today and it is a pity that because of COVID so many athletes and officials are prevented from being here to join us.

“In seventy years of being associated with the County Association, I cannot recall anyone whose death has resulted in such an outpouring of respect and love.

“Martin was a wonderful man for whom nothing was too much trouble whether it was as Treasurer of the County or Sussex Schools where he also saved them from the brink.

“Everyone remarked how kind and helpful he was whether financially or as an announcer where he was one of the best in the country, or as an administrator.

“A full obituary appears on the Sussex website as well as a selection of the tributes the County has received from so many people who have worked with him.

“We will not see his like again and he will be sorely missed by so many people who are honoured to call him a friend.”

Melanie Anning and Kate Matthews of Brighton and Hove organised the event and would like to thank all the officials, volunteers, athletes and spectators who made Sunday a very special day.