Belgrave Harriers provide a stern test for the Rovers

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Eastbourne Rovers welcomed one of the largest athletics clubs in the country, Belgrave Harriers, on Saturday for the penultimate round of the Southern Athletics League season.

Also competing were teams from Newbury and Holland Sports, but it was Belgrave who were the star attraction.

While some of their more famous members, such as Dwain Chambers, were off picking up medals in the British Championships, they still brought down a very strong team containing an English Cross Country champion and a three-time Olympian.

This meant Eastbourne were always going to be up against it and unfortunately, this turned out to be the case with Rovers forced to settle for third place.

Despite this, there were still a large number of impressive individual performances from the team.

Joe Morris continued his fine form in the Javelin this year, winning with a new personal best of 46.54m, and Russell Weir, competing for the first time this season, won the B string Pole Vault by clearing 3.20m.

On the track, Emma Noel ran a commanding 70.3s to take victory in the 400m hurdles, while Ester Reynolds clocked 13.5s to win the B 100m.

Middle-distance specialist Ed Dodd decided to test himself over 400m. Showing off his speed, he smashed his personal best, winning the race in 51.4s - a time which any 400m specialist would definitely be proud of!

The race of the day, though, came in the 800m, where Ed Hickman Casey took on the aforementioned ex-Olympian, Paskar Owar.

After a very slow opening lap, Ed eventually pushed to the front and held off all of Paskar’s attacks to win with a time of 1:59.4.

The competition finished brightly for Eastbourne as they took victory in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m relays thanks, in part, to a fantastic anchor leg from Adam Hutchings.

Their third place on the day means that Rovers unfortunately lose their grip on the promotion places.

With a trip to league leaders Crawley for the final match of the season, they are going to have to be up for a tough challenge ahead.

Despite all the individual success, the day ended on a sad note as it marked the last competition for the talented Ieuan Handley before he moves to Cardiff and, in what is such a small team, his contributions will be sorely missed.