MORE than 350 athletes competed in Southend AC’s Open on Monday.

It was an increase of about 70 per cent from last year’s event as the feelgood factor from the Olympics looks to have rolled on.

The standard in most of the events was impressive – with the best of the day being the 3.70m clearance in the women’s pole vault by FitzWimarc School teacher Kate Cowley (Havering Mayesbrook) who equalled the 3.70m stadium record.

Other top performances from the home club came from Josh Mann (under-17) whose 5m 11.78s won him the 1,500m steeplechase and Jake King (under-20) who claimed a hat-trick of golds in the 100m (11.63s), 200m (22.97s) and 400m (50.95s).

In the under-15 girls, Lucy Shaw claimed a sprint double (100m, 13.40s and 200m 27.19s).

Ellie Rowan also won the under-13 girls’ race 200m (30.02s). Laurence Willmore won an under-15 double (800m 2m 17.18s and 1,500m 4m 33.46s).

Lucy Kidwell and Georgia Goble dominated the under-15 and under-13 800m events respectively, Kidwell winning in 2m 31.42s and Goble in a PB 2m 46.51s.

An unofficial meeting record was set in the 3,000m by under-17 David Gaskin (Trent Park) with a nippy 10m 1.87s.

The meeting also welcomed Joshua Thorn, currently Britain’s leading F37 Disability athlete from Chelmsford who threw the javelin 30.85m and was literally in a class of his own.

One of the highlights of the day, though, was the introduction of the one-mile walk where 15 athletes toed the start line.

It was an illustrious field of one-time internationals including former Olympian Shaun Lightman and 1970 Commonwealth bronze medallist Bill Sutherland.

But it was former Southend AC athlete, Chris Cattano who earned the gold medal with 7m 58.50s.

Event organiser Keith Palmer said: “This was by far our best ever championships and has raised substantial funds for transport and new equipment for the youngsters. “People came from clubs and schools far afield, and some were new to the sport and just fancied having a go. Everyone worked so hard to help make this a success from the parents, the Rotary Club of Leigh -on-Sea, and to the athletes themselves. “It is of no doubt the Olympics has created a surge in interest and it was tremendous and uplifting to witness.”