Portsmouth athletes ready to step it up on national stage

Nicole Ainsworth, left, and Saffron Moore, right, have been sharing titles this winter
Nicole Ainsworth, left, and Saffron Moore, right, have been sharing titles this winter
Steven Davey. Picture: Neil Marshall

City thrilled with ‘most complete’ British Athletics League show

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National glory is the focus for City of Portsmouth athletes at Donington Park tomorrow.

It’s been a successful cross-country season for the club so far.

City of Portsmouth under-15 girls will be strong in Leicestershire

City of Portsmouth under-15 girls will be strong in Leicestershire

They have two South of England champions in Josie Czura and Nicole Ainsworth.

While Czura, Saffron Moore and Lachlan Wellington are all Hampshire champions.

So the squad heading to Leicestershire for the prestigious Saucony English National Cross Country Championships will be in confident mood and they are used to winning.

Unfortunately, club training has been disrupted with the floodlights out of use at the Mountbatten Centre.

But that has not stopped the athletes in their tracks and City coach Vince Stamp believes they are ready.

He said: ‘We’ve been training here, there and everywhere as a club.

‘It’s been difficult. The club are using the HMS Temeraire, Victory Stadium, Navy track now but my group need to be on the grass for cross-country training.

‘Without the floodlit grass area at the Mountbatten Centre we have been a bit more limited in what we can do.

‘We’ve been using my illuminated cones to set up circuits and made the best of it.

‘Everyone is ready and I hope they will enjoy the experience.’

City have been strong all winter in the under-15 boys’ age group with Wellington, and Jacob O’Hara, who is coached by Pat Butcher, leading the charge.

In the under-13 girls’ Moore, Ainsworth and Charlotte Bullard head a powerful team line-up, while Czura is set to spearhead the medal charge in the under-15 girls’ race.

Stamp said: ‘Josie is flying. She is one of the medal contenders.

‘Lachlan has been in superb form and he has a tough race on his hands.

‘Regular rival Zak Mahamed will be there and it should be a duel well worth watching.

‘If you were paying to watch, it would be well worth the money.

‘Jacob is also in the mix. He’s running really well and has the nationals, the English Schools, and the Inter-Counties coming up.

‘Saffron and Nicole have been sharing out the titles this winter and they will hopefully be in the shake-up for medals.

‘Charlotte Bullard is running really well and we have a strong squad, including Ellie O’Neill and Yazmin Knight.

‘You are only as strong as your fifth runner because anything can happen on the day.’

England international Alex Teuten will line-up in the senior men’s race.

He will be looking to continue his good winter form and feature high up in the placings.

A total of 7,850 athletes have entered the championships, representing 538 affiliated athletics clubs.

The races start and finish in Donington Park motorsport circuit.

To add in some tough hills the course goes out onto adjacent farmland and crosses into Derbyshire.