IT may have been a typically dreary Bank Holiday Monday but that did not stop hundreds of athletes turning up for Southend AC’s annual open meeting and there were a number of performances that lit up the murky day.
An impressive 275 runners, jumpers and throwers ignored the pouring rain to compete on the Garon Park track, much to the surprise of organisers who had feared a drop in numbers owing to the weather.
“We’ve had about 300 competitors in the past two years,” said Southend AC’s press secretary June Cork.
“We expected that number in 2012 with the Olympics effect, but we weren’t expecting that to carry on last year and it did and we certainly didn’t expect it this year with the weather forecast well known.
“We thought we would be knocked for six so we were stunned when, at the end of the day, we counted 275 competitors.”
Many of the day’s highlights came in the throwing events where wins for Billy Praim-Singh and Alex Skingle in the hammer competitions saw them fly up the national rankings.
But the stand-out performance surely came from King Edmund School pupil Sebastian Dickens who won the under-13 boys shot with a massive putt of 13.74m.
The distance was the longest throw in the country this year, beating his own previous best of 13.47m set two weeks ago.
It was also the sixth longest throw ever in Britain by an under-13 athlete.
Southend AC’s Praim-Singh, 15, won a stacked under-17 hammer competition with a best throw of 58.89m, lifting him to seventh in the national rankings.
He won by the slenderest of margins over Canvey’s Levi Causton who finished just two centimetres back on 58.87m.
Chelmsford’s Alex Reynolds, the third of a talented Essex hammer throwing trio, was third with 51.82m.
Praim-Singh also won the shot with another PB of 13.11m and was second in the discus (33.91m PB).
There was another superb performance in the age group below where Southend High School for Boys’ Alex Skingle won with a PB of 48.69m, propelling him up to sixth in the national rankings.
In the girls under-15 discus, Southend’s Iona Doyle (22.70m) was second and Blythe Pearson third (21.39m).
In the javelin, Tom Metcalf won the under-20s event with 42.66m and his Southend team-mate James Marsh won the under-17 event (33.73m).
Another Southend AC athlete, Eleanor Butt, won the under-13 girls javelin throw with 25.03m.
In the high jump, home club athletes Ethan Stone (1.30m) won the under-13 boys competition and Ben Henderson the under-17 boys event with a PB clearance of 1.72m.
On the track, the men’s 100m was won by Oliver Best in 11.66s.
The full results from the meeting were still being collated as the Echo went to press.