LOCAL ATHLETES CONTINUE WINNING WAYS IN WORLD MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIPS

Competitors from Rugby & Northampton AC make their mark on global stage

Athletes from Rugby & Northampton Athletic Club collected 11 medals, including eight golds, from the recent World Masters Athletic Championships held in Malaga, Spain.

The standout performer was Angela Copson, taking home seven gold medals and one bronze. The 71-year-old was competing in her first World Championships in the Women’s over 70 category.

Her medal haul began with a commanding victory in the 6k Cross Country. Copson won the race by almost two minutes with a time of 27:27 from New Zealand’s Judith Stewart (29:25), to make it 32 consecutive Cross Country events unbeaten.

In the 10k she also impressed and claimed her first world title on the road with a time of 45:38, again finishing ahead of Stewart on 49:23.

On the track, her form continued. As the world record holder, Copson lined up as the favourite to win the 800m and she duly took her first outdoor world title at that distance with 2:54.63 to win by 13 seconds. The next day Copson competed in the 5000m final and demolished the whole field with a time of 22:08.19. Judith Stewart had to settle for her third silver medal on 23:57.48.

The 400m final was a tight affair and Angela was pushed hard by New Zealand’s Sheryl Gower and Finland’s Maija Kumpula, but she was able to claim another gold medal. It was her first world title over this distance and with a time of 77.47 she set a new British W70 record.

On the last day of the Championships, Copson took part in her final individual event, the 1500m. She won the race by a full 30 seconds in 5:48.07 taking her gold medal tally to six. Not finished there, she then took part in two sprint relays for Great Britain and Northern Ireland with the squad clinching bronze in the 4x100m with 78.13 and then Copson won a seventh and final gold in the 4x400m (6:07.79).

Another star performer from Rugby & Northampton Athletic Club was Simon Bickers who finished the Championships with a gold, silver and a bronze medal in the M55 age group.

In the 800m semi-final, he won with a time of 2:11.08 making him the fastest qualifier. The final proved to be a very close affair with just one-tenth of a second covering the three medallists. Bickers improved on his semi-final time but was just pipped by the USA’s Ray Knerr who recorded 2:09.90 to Bickers 2:09.95 with Giuseppe Ugolini of Italy recording 2:10.00. Bickers is now ranked number one in the UK for M55 Outdoors 800m.

British athletes dominated the medal places in the M55 400m final. Jonathan Tilt improved on his qualifying time to win the title in 54.71 with John Wright (55.95), just edging out Bickers (55.97) for a Great Britain clean sweep. This continued into the 4x400m relay, where the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team won ahead of the USA. Their winning time of 3:42.42 set a new European record and gave Bickers his first gold of the Championships.

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