Double Southern comfort for City aces

Adam Akehurst, left, and Steven Davey hold the key to City's men's hopes
Adam Akehurst, left, and Steven Davey hold the key to City's men's hopes
Bethany Murdy and Tracy Murdy at Havant parkrun event 295

Celebration time at Havant parkrun

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The women and men’s teams at City of Portsmouth will combine their efforts to ensure a unique double at the Mountbatten Centre tomorrow.

The local club plays host to the latest rounds of the Southern Track and Field League, with both teams keen to continue their impressive starts to their respective campaigns.

Competing in senior division one, the women’s outfit got their season off to a flyer with a comprehensive 29-point opening-day victory at Kingsmeadow – maintaining their fine tradition in the competition.

But, not to be outdone, the men showed that they, too, are a force to be reckoned with following a win in their top-flight season opener.

Both teams, however, will have to make do without some of their key performers if they are to maintain their unbeaten starts to the season.

The men will be missing Junior European Championship-hopeful Richard Shuttleworth, fresh from his championship-best winning throw of 69.25m at last week’s Hampshire Championships.

The student is unable to make the trip down from Loughborough University, while Alex Teuten – a 1,500m winner at last weekend’s counties – is also absent due to his studies.

For the women, who also compete in the National League, they will have to do without their athlete of 2010, Mandy Gault, who is still recovering from a foot injury.

Meanwhile, Karrie Blake (Achilles), Jessica Shuttleworth (knee), Claire Neetley (holiday) and Sophie Millett (university commitments) are also unable to compete for Dave Churcher’s side.

That has left Churcher with the task of reshuffling his troops but he’s confident he still has the strength and depth to celebrate a home victory.

‘We have a lot missing through injury and other commitments, and it is sort of an understrength team but hopefully other factors will help balance things out,’ said Churcher.

‘Katy Watts will return to side to compete in the javelin and shot, Cassie Thorp is likely to have her first run-out on the track in the 3,000m after performing so well on the roads, while we’re also fortunate to see Emma Gilmore doing so well.

‘We also had some success in the Hampshire Championships.

‘Sam Vaile did well in the sprints – along with younger runners Deanna Giddings and Hollie Fudge – and in the long jump.

‘Meanwhile, Gilmore and Jess Chen are also in good form, with Chen running just over 17mins for the 5k on the road.

‘We, therefore, have some strength in the middle distances and other areas which will help us counteract those who are missing.

‘Their losses are not ideal, but we should be able to balance it out in other areas.

‘Everyone’s up for the challenge ahead.’

Despite the loss of Shuttleworth and Teuten to his plans, men’s team boss Lee Jones expects to have Alex Budd back in his line-up for their match.

He missed the majority of last season with an Achilles problem.

But after just two weeks of training on the track, the 800m specialists is due to resume normal duty with City.

And with the reliable Adam Akehurst and Steve Davey providing the backbone to the men’s team, Jones remains optimistic.

‘Our opening win set the tone for what we want to achieve this season and we want to repeat it,’ he said.

‘I’m confident we will do that with the likes of Steve, who puts some of the young ones to shame, and Adam in our side, while the nice pot of younger athletes who are coming through means the base is there for a successful team.

‘Alex coming back is also a bonus. It’s good to have him back in the frame.’