Tonbridge’s Olley signs off with a flourish at British trials

Tonbridge mens' team storm to victory and win back crown
Tonbridge Athletic Club’s men’s team regained the English National Cross Country Championship

TONBRIDGE Athletic Club sent a record number of qualifiers to the British Championships in Birmingham, a BBC televised event that acts as trials for the European Championships in Berlin next month.

Chris Olley took part in the 5,000m final in what will be his last race in the UK before heading to the University of San Francisco for a year’s postgraduate study.

The pace picked up considerably over the final mile as the leaders stretched out. Olley covered the last four laps in 4min 18sec to finish in fifth place in a time of 13:55.70.

This superb run was a personal best by eight seconds for Olley, who was one of just two athletes who set their best marks on the day.

In the 3,000m steeplechase Ryan Driscoll also placed fifth in 8:45.62 to improve on his own Tonbridge record by four seconds. Fellow Tonbridge athlete Alex Howard finished 10th.

Nicole Taylor showed great bravery as she led the women’s 5,000m final for several laps.

She managed to slip away from the main field and at one stage had a lead of eight seconds, but she was caught by the pack with 800 metres remaining and finished 12th in 16:33.85.

Lucy Reid also had an impressive run to finish 11th in 16:29.90, and Ashley Gibson completed an unprecedented trio of Tonbridge athletes in the final, coming 16th in 16:57.45.

Tonbridge had two other finalists, both in the men’s 1500 metres. James West ran 3:44.49 in his heat and finished seventh in the final in 3:48.48 after a slow, tactical race.

Dominic Brown had the unusual experience of being allowed to compete in the final, despite having fallen over in his heat, because an advertising stand had blown into his path. He finished 10th in 3:49.93.

The other Tonbridge athletes competing included Jack Lennard (100m), Lewis Collins (400m), Sean Molloy (800m), George Duggan (1500m) and Kieran Reilly (1500m), as well as the walkers Tom Bosworth and Guy Thomas.

Max Nicholls was on international duty for Team GB at the European Mountain Running Championships in Macedonia, finishing 12th of 78 starters. He was the third scorer for the team as they took silver among 18 competing nations.

The club’s Under-17 and U20 squads performed well to come second out of the six clubs in their UK Youth Development League match at Croydon.

PICTURE: RIGHT ON TRACK: Chris Olley pushes for the front in Birmingham

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