BY TOM POLLAK
Teenage sprinter Chad Miller enjoyed the most successful day of his young athletics life when he won his first England title at Bedford on Saturday and clinched a place in the British team to compete in the IAAF World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland next month.
Miller, 18, went into the England under-20 championships as the joint-third fastest UK 100 metres runner this season but proved the best on the day.
He had three perfect starts as he took his heat in 10.43 seconds, the fastest of the 24 qualifiers for the semi-finals, his semi-final in a faster 10.42 and then stormed to a tremendous victory in the final in a lifetime best time of 10.35 to win by five-hundreds of a second.
His first round win equalled his previous best time set in Belgium at the beginning of this month and he improved on that in his two subsequent races.
Miller said: “I know that when I’m in a certain place at 60m, 70m, then I just need to relax.
“My dad always says to me: ‘Running fast is running relaxed’. So I just relaxed and came through. In my head I’m just like: ‘Relax, relax’. In the semi I tried to run fast and I was straining. I wasn’t as fast; I ran the same time as in the heat. In the final I just relaxed and the line came quick!”
“To be English champion is amazing. I used to come here and be praying I’d make the semi. It means a lot. A few years ago I said: ’When I’m second year under-20 I want to run 10.3, because that’s what you need to be in contention on the world’. So for it to actually happen, I just have to thank God. I’m so happy.”
His dad Paul, a former Surrey 100m champion who also helps with his coaching, said: “We’re obviously very pleased with his win. He did really well to win the 100m and so we decided to pull out of the 200, for which he was also entered.”
Miller is racing in a meeting in Mannheim, Germany this weekend.
Last year, he ran for England in the Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas, where he took bronze in the 200m and helped the mixed England relay team take silver medals.
A second Hercules Wimbledon sprinter in the under-20 100m at Bedford was Ryan Facey.
The ex-footballer, in only his first full athletics season, managed to finish sixth in his semi-final in a personal best of 10.84 after qualifying in fifth place in his heat with 10.98.
Hercules Wimbledon had a record 37 runners in Saturday’s Wimbledon Common 5km parkrun, filling the top 10 places. Andrew Penney, running in the event for the first time since he won it back in August 2008 in 16:53, headed home the 517-strong field in a swift 15:21, finishing four seconds ahead of Jonny Cornish with Ben Toomer third in 15:25.
Fred Slemeck was fourth (16:01), Howell Crake fifth (16:05) and Dimos Evangelidis sixth (16:06). Finn Johnson was seventh (16:30).
The club also provided the top four women finishers. Gina Galbraith won in 18:59 ahead of Eileen Brandley (19:24), 12-year-old Lulu Weisz (20:04) and Lisa Thomas (21:11).
Jonny Earl beat a 474-strong field at Norwich winning in 15:54, taking 25 seconds off his previous best, and Richard McDowell was the first of 424 runners on his debut appearance at Weymouth in 16:22.
Georgie Clarke was second female finisher in Bishop’s Park in 19:05 and Alex Binley was second woman at Kettering in 19:20.
This weekend, Hercules Wimbledon athletes are in action in the third of this season’s Southern Athletics League meetings at the Sir Mo Farah track at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, on Saturday, starting at 12noon.
The fourth of this season’s Rosenheim League Eastern Division matches is being held at Battersea Park on Wednesday June 27, starting at 6.30pm.
Hercules Wimbledon’s women’s team will be aiming to strengthen their position at the top of the league table.