Athletics: Solo effort against the elements

Chris Richards (Hill City-University) unsuccessfully attempts a 3m pole vault on his way to becoming the Otago senior men's decathlon champion at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin yesterday. Photos by Jane Dawber.
Chris Richards (Hill City-University) unsuccessfully attempts a 3m pole vault on his way to becoming the Otago senior men's decathlon champion at the Caledonian Ground in Dunedin yesterday. Photos by Jane Dawber.
Chris Richards (Hill City-University) is the Otago senior men's decathlon champion after conquering the wild weather that hit Dunedin at the weekend.

Richards (36), a science teacher at Otago Girls' High School, was the only competitor in the event and won with a score of 3151 points in his first decathlon at the Caledonian Ground.

It was not a hollow win because he had to compete against the elements. Rain made the run-up in the high jump and in the throwing circle difficult. The gusty wind made the pole vault tricky and he was hit by the head wind in the back straight of the 1500m.

Ian Craven (Hill City-University) throws the javelin 26.43m during the successful defence of his Otago masters over-35 decathlon title.
Ian Craven (Hill City-University) throws the javelin 26.43m during the successful defence of his Otago masters over-35 decathlon title.
The decathlon is the toughest event in athletics and requires athletes to master 10 disciplines.

Richards' individual scores were: 100m, 12.71sec (518 points), long jump, 4.93m (369), shot put, 7.87m (359), high jump, 1.40m (317), 400m, 63.70sec (296), 110m hurdles, 23.24sec (139), discus, 20.41m (280), pole vault, 2.90m (333), javelin, 26.22m (246), 1500m, 5min 52.86sec (294).

He had the satisfaction of gaining personal best performances in five events: long jump, shot put, 400m, 110m hurdles and 1500m. He equalled his personal best in the pole vault.

Richards came into the sport three years ago and is coached by Jarrod Adams.

He was a gymnast while at school and had reached level 9 when he retired from that sport at the age of 18. He was runner-up in the New Zealand gymnastics championships in level 9.

"Gymnastics has been good for the pole vault. It has given me balance and a head for heights," Richards said.

Ian Craven (Hill City-University) won his third successive Otago masters over-35 title with a score of 4572 points.

Craven (55), a special education adviser for the Ministry of Education, gained personal best performances in the shot put and discus.

His individual performances were: 100m, 14.40sec (549 points), long jump, 3.93m (411), shot put, 7.23m (437), high jump, 1.40m (552), 400m, 68.15sec (498), 110m hurdles, 21.96sec (328),discus, 24.89m (418), pole vault, 2.20m (333), javelin, 26.43m (375), 1500m, 5min 37.61sec (671).

The highlight of other events came from Stephen Isaac (Hill City-University), who finished with a strong burst down the straight to win the men's 400m in a personal best time of 50.02sec.

Isaac, who is coached by Brent Ward, was runner-up in the junior men's 400m hurdles at last season's New Zealand championships in Auckland.

His goal is to qualify in the hurdles for the World University Games in Russia next year. The qualifying standard is 50.80sec and his best time is 54.20sec.

The women's 400m was won by Megan McPhail (Hill City-University) in 58.11sec from clubmate Fiona Hely (58.31sec).

Meg McKay (Hill City-University) ran strongly round the top bend and sprinted down the straight to win the girls aged 16 and 17 400m in a personal-best 62.40sec from Anna Cross (Ariki, 62.63sec).

Liz Wilson (Hill City-University) won the masters women's 400m in an Otago aged 50 to 54 record of 65.32sec. The old record was 72.92sec.

Julie Edmunds (Caversham) broke the record in the masters women's aged 40 to 44 age group in the 3km walk in 16min 50.52sec. The old record of 16min 54.30sec was walked by Raelene Stephenson in 1995.

Joe Beamish (Hill City-University) ran the last 400m in 66 seconds to win the men's 5000m in 16min 12.79sec. It was a personal best time by 1min 18sec.

Jacob Matson (South Canterbury) ran the second fastest 200m of the day when he won the boys aged 15 race in 23sec. International Daniel O'Shea (Hill City-University) ran the fastest time of 22.16sec in the senior men's event.