Hercules Wimbledon Athletic – Roper underlines class at London Indoor Games

Jaleel Roper was not far off his best time as he moved up to the men’s under-17 age group in the London Indoor Games at Lee Valley Athletics Centre on Saturday, writes Tom Pollak.

Jaleel Roper who made an impressive start to his 2018 programme

He went through the whole of last season unbeaten in all the championships he contested.

Roper, who won the Surrey, South of England, England and Surrey and English Schools 100 metres titles in 2017, was not far off his PB of 7.09 seconds – set in winning the English indoor 60m title in Sheffield last February – as he clocked 7.11 and 7.13 to finish third and second respectively in his 60m races.

He was down to also compete in the 200m but his coach Paul Miller, himself a three-time Surrey 100m champion, decided against it.

Miller said: “Jaleel is still suffering from the effects of a cold but he will run a lot faster in the next few weeks. We are looking to make sure he peaks for the national indoors next month.”

Two weeks earlier, Roper reached the South of England men’s under-17 60 metres final, also at Lee Valley. In his first races since winning the England under-15 100m and 200 metres titles at Bedford last August, Roper won his heat in 7.22 and his semi-final in 7.20 before pulling out of the final. However, he showed much faster form in the London Indoor Games last weekend.

Roper, 14, has been shortlisted for Junior Sports Person of the Year in the Active Wandsworth Awards for his unbeaten record in 2017 and also been selected to take the best boys’ under-15 Surrey championship award for his 60m sprint win last February.

Also at Lee Valley, Hercules Wimbledon’s 2017 European indoor 60m finalist Theo Etienne took the silver medal in the South of England senior men’s 60m final in  6.67 after winning his heat and semi-final in 6.77 and 6.76.

Nimi Kolade clocked a personal best of 7.00 in finishing sixth in his semi-final after taking third place in his heat in 7.05.

Robert Philpott finished fifth in the South of England under-17 200m final in 23.47 after winning his heat in 23.62 and finishing second in his semi-final in 23.36. He was fourth in his 60m semi-final in 7.38 after clocking a faster 7.36 in finishing third in his heat.

Hercules Wimbledon newcomer Ryan Facey

Newcomer Ryan Facey, 18, who has switched to athletics from football, where was a forward with the Metropolitan Police youth team, made an impressive debut, just failing to reach the South of England under-20 60m final.

He came third in his semi-final in 7.02 after taking second in his heat in 7.05.

Miller said: “He’s a raw talent. I’ve been training him for a month and he didn’t even know how to use starting blocks when he came to me. I’m very impressed with him.”.

Ellen Weir was the club’s best performer in the Surrey Schools cross country championships staged in pouring rain at Priory Park, Reigate, on Saturday. She was fifth in the junior girls race to gain selection for the English schools championships in Temple Newsam Park, Leeds, on March 17. Lauren Ermitage was seventh in the girls under-13 race with Lloyd Hodgson fifth in the under-13 boys championship. Sam Barker and Henry Silverstein were 12th and 13th in the senior boys championship.

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