Ben Reynolds

Ben Reynolds, of Cardiff Athletics, lets out a roar of delight at winning his first senior title in the 800m. Pic: Owen Morgan

Ben Reynolds Shows Roar Talent And Determination To Become Welsh Track Champion

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By Owen Morgan

A roar of delight at the end of a closely contested 800m illustrated just how much it means to win a Welsh athletics title.

As the 105th edition of the Welsh Athletics Championships neared its finale, Ben Reynolds made his move as he entered the home straight of the men’s two-lap final.

Guest athlete Christian Byron, of Birchfield Harriers, was leading the field as the race entered its closing stages.

But Reynolds, hunting down his first senior title, was in no mood to pass up the opportunity of winning Welsh gold in style on his home track.

Timing his finish to perfection, Reynolds swept past Byron in the final few strides allowing him to celebrate – arms outstretched – as he crossed the line in 1:54.40 before bellowing his delight at victory.

The University of Oregon student’s reaction summed up two days of hotly contested competition involving almost 1,000 athletes chasing Welsh titles in appropriately high temperatures.

Rhiannon Hawker Rhiannon Hawker cruises to the women’s 800m title at the Welsh Athletics Championships. Pic: Owen Morgan

If Reynolds’ celebration was raucous, Rhiannon Hawker’s celebration at winning the women’s 800m title was serene by comparison.

Having moved up from her usual 400m distance last season, Hawker (formerly Linington-Payne) has taken to the distance in style.

From gun to finish, there was little doubt about the result and the Cardiff Athletics runner cruised over the line almost eight seconds ahead of the field in 2:10.84.

Shortly afterwards another Cardiff athlete, Hannah Longden rounded off a particularly successful weekend.

Hannah Longden Hannah Longden, of Cardiff Athletics, completes the sprint double at the Welsh Athletics Championships. Pic: Owen Morgan

Having won the women’s 100m on Saturday, Longden completed the coveted sprint double with a brilliant run to claim the 200m crown in 24.20.

In the final event of the championship, yet another Cardiff athlete claimed gold as Aaron Owen won the 200m, crossing the line in 21.72 ahead of Newport’s Joseph Berry in 21.94.

The day may have been rounded off with the familiar sprints, but it started in less traditional style with the seated shot put – a hugely welcome new addition to the championship’s timetable.

Arron Owen Arron Owen takes the men’s 200m title at the Welsh Athletics Championships. Pic: Owen Morgan

Kieran Jones, of Disability Sport Wales Para Athletics, took the gold medal in the para male seated shot with a personal best throw of 8.18m.

Jac Sheehan, also of DSW Para Athletics, finished second and Paddy Pepper, of the British Wheelchair Athletics Association, completed the podium.

Ellie Bowen, DSW Para Athletics, was champion in the para female seated shot, reaching a distance of 6.36m. The seated discus, which took place later in the day, was won by Jac Sheehan who threw a huge 17.58m.

There was a particularly strong field in the senior men’s discus headed by the likes of Scottish guest athlete Nick Percy, who took the overall win with a best of 62.55.

The Welsh title was claimed by Pembrokeshire Harrier James Tomlinson, who produced a personal best of 57.30m. There was a familiar face in second place in the shape of Olympian Brett Morse, competing in the discus for the first time since May 2019.

Keiran Jones Keiran Jones on his way to a personal best in the seated shot. Pic: Owen Morgan

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Harrison Walsh, who is preparing to represent Great Britain at next month’s World Para Athletics Championships threw 55.39m.

The senior men’s shot put Welsh title was also won with a personal best performance as Cornwall AC’s Patrick Swan continued to close in on his ambition of breaking 18 metres with 17.87 – an improvement of 27 centimetres.

Two other athletes preparing for next month’s World Para Athletics Championships along with Walsh were also competing in the shot put.

Multiple global gold medal winner Aled Davies threw 15.58m, while Michael Jenkins, of Pembrokeshire Harriers, who will be making his debut at the event in Paris, threw 13.72m.

In fact, all seven of the Welsh athletes who will be travelling to France were in action across the two days of Welsh Championships action, with Hollie Arnold completing the set by competing in the javelin on Sunday, where she threw 36.71m.

Back on the track, the men’s steeplechase was something of a family affair.

Patrick Swan Patrick Swan produced a big personal best to claim the Welsh shot put title. Pic: Owen Morgan

In another high-quality event, featuring a number of guest athletes, the Welsh title was won by Thomas Chaston, of Belgrave Harriers, who is currently studying in the USA, in a time of 9:17.92.

Chaston became the third generation in his family to win the Welsh title and his medal was presented to him by his father Justin Chaston, a three-time Olympian.

Barriers of a slightly different kind were cleared by Northampton AC’s Thomas Wilcock, who claimed the senior men’s 110m hurdles title in 14.12.

The women’s Welsh senior 110m hurdles title was won by Commonwealth Games athlete Lauren Evans in 13.90, ahead of fellow multi-eventer Grace Morgan, who clocked 14.43.

Evans also went on to win the Welsh title in the women’s high jump with a best of 1.70m.

There were also some notable doubles in the Welsh Under-15 Championships which were run alongside the senior events over the weekend.

Swansea Harrier Libby Hale followed up her Welsh 1500m record-breaking performance on Saturday to take the 800m title in a new championship best time of 2:11.13.

Meanwhile, Maldwyn’s Max Evans followed up his 100m win on Saturday by taking the 200m title in fine style on Sunday, finishing well clear of the field in 22.58.

And Cardiff Archer Aliyah Afolabi emulated Evans’ sprint double by winning Sunday’s 200m girls under-15 final in 25.39.

Full results from across a massively entertaining weekend can be found on the Welsh Athletics website.

Thomas Wilcock Thomas Wilcock clears the final barrier on his way to claiming the Welsh 110m hurdle title. Pic: Owen Morgan

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