Sports Update by Chris Lines

IN THE SPORT THIS MONTH...
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Sports Update

Another year of sport in Sedgefield has flown by. Times continue to be strange for all grass roots clubs and participants, having to adapt to changing circumstances and regulations on a regular basis. Despite those challenges, the sporting scene in Sedgefield is as vibrant as ever.

Throughout 2021, I’ve had the pleasure of reporting on fantastic performances and various other achievements by sports people of all ages from our community. The highlight has to be Jack Smith’s gold medal in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, but I only single out that because it’s an example of what can be achieved by combining talent with hard work and the right facilities and support.

And as we reach the end of the year, news arrives of great success for another disability sport athlete from Sedgefield…

Email club reports to Chris Lines: chrisjlines@aol.com

Athletics

Hundreds of runners from around the North East descended on Sedgefield on Saturday 11 December for the 115th North Eastern Counties Athletic Association (NECAA) Cross Country Championships. Hosted by Sedgefield Harriers in East Park, the event is an iconic fixture on the region’s grass roots sports calendar, with races for junior and senior athletes from under 11s to senior men and women. The event returned to Sedgefield for the second time in six years.

The action began at 10:35am with races for under 11 boys and girls, started by Cllr Ann Carr, Mayor of Sedgefield, and Cllr Mel Carr, Chair of Sedgefield Town Council. The NECAA championship races kicked off at 11:00am, with a series of events for U13s, U15s, U17s and U20s, and culminating in the races with the biggest fields, for senior men and senior women. Despite rain and snow in recent weeks, the course was in good condition and proved popular with athletes, presenting them with a good balance of climbs and flatter sections through the three fields that constitute East Park.

The men’s race was won by reigning English National Cross Country Champion Calum Johnson of Gateshead Harriers, with a dominant performance. In the women’s race, Catriona MacDonald of Morpeth Harriers was the winner.

The men’s team event was won by Morpeth Harriers, with Jarrow & Hebburn AC claiming the women’s title. The home club was well represented in many of the races during the day and Sedgefield Harriers fielded the biggest team in the senior women’s race.

Ahead of the championships, Sedgefield Harriers recruited a large team of volunteers to deliver the event, with over 50 club members contributing in many different ways. Staging the event was a big community effort. Sedgefield Cricket Club hosted the race headquarters, St. Edmund’s Explorer Scouts put up marquees, Number Four tea room supplied sandwiches for the officials’ packed lunches and fruit came from The Juicy Pear.

Event catering for runners was provided by Ramside Estates. Hardwick East Park is owned by Durham County Council, which gave permission to hold the event on its land, and rangers from Hardwick Park provided great support throughout.

Unlike in 2015, the weather didn’t misbehave too much and feedback from runners was that it was a really good cross country course - fair, but challenging, and in a lovely setting. The club was delighted to welcome runners of all ages to compete in Sedgefield, representing clubs from every part of the North East.

Sedgefield Harriers is grateful to all of the volunteers who made the event possible, and ensured that it ran smoothly throughout.

As if hosting a major event wasn’t enough for one day, Sedgefield Harriers handed out its annual awards the same night, at a social event in the Parish Hall. The winners are:
Club Runner of the Year: Mark Chapman
Club Member of the Year: Lisa Darby
Volunteer of the Year: Stuart Park
Individual Performance: Gary Thwaites
Newcomer of the Year: Colin Gandy
Supporter of the Year: Mike Wood
Dave Sawyer Endurance Award: Jane Spink and Stuart Park

The club thanks Fay Uphill and Gary Forster of Lost Robot for organising the event.

Find out more at www.sedgefieldharriers.co.uk

Boccia

Sedgefield star Lee Maddison has been working his way up the rankings in the sport of boccia for years. Currently in the England squad, in November Lee was invited to Largs in Scotland by Team GB Paralympics, to play in a tournament where he could showcase his talents to the Boccia UK coaches.

At the competition, Lee was awarded the coaches’ choice award by the Team GB coach and soon after received an email informing him that he had been nominated and shortlisted for a 2021 Boccia England Award in the category of performance athlete of the year.

Lee went on to win that award – a fantastic and richly deserved double success!

Along with his sports assistant Chris Foster, Lee has worked very hard this year, despite various COVID restrictions, to improve on all aspects of their game together, and achieve new heights as competition starts to open back up. As always, Lee and his family are hugely grateful to Chris for his patience and commitment. They appreciate all that he does for Lee and are all immensely proud of them both for their achievements. I think that everyone in Sedgefield will echo that!

Squash

Sedgefield Squash Club’s teams have been competing in the Durham & Cleveland County Leagues over the past few weeks. The ladies team - current champions - have had a difficult start with several senior players out through injury, but are currently third in the division.

Circumstances have given the chance to blood new players into team squash, providing them with invaluable opportunities to compete against other clubs.

The five senior teams are currently experiencing very mixed fortunes in their respective divisions. The first team are third in the premier league and had a tight 3-2 defeat to league leaders and defending champions Bannatyne’s.

The second and fifth teams are both bottom of divisions 1 and 4 respectively. The third and fourth teams are in the same division so battled out an epic match against each other recently, with the thirds coming away with the bragging rights, thanks to a narrow 3 -2 win. The next few weeks will see all of the teams involved in County Cup action, so I will have updates on their progress in the new year.

For all coaching contacts, membership and general information, visit the club’s website at www.sedgefieldsquashclub.co.uk.
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