Dwayne makes Hercules History down under

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Hercules Wimbledon's Dwayne Cowan will be making history when he turns out for England in the opening round of the individual Commonwealth Games 400 metres championship in Carrara Stadium on Australia’s Gold Coast on Sunday morning.

Cowan clinched his selection for the individual 400 metres when he won the IAAF Diamond League event in Birmingham last August in a lifetime best of 45.34 seconds and, at 33, he will be one of the oldest competitors to make their Commonwealth Games debut. His Birmingham time ranked him second among Britain’s one-lap runners in 2017 and he only had one further race last year, an invitation event in Italy in which he clocked 45.63.

Since then, he has been training flat out for the Commonwealth Games and has had four races as part of his preparation. He finished second in the Summer of Athletics meeting 400 metres in Brisbane in 46.93 last month and, a week later, clocked a modest 47.06 in the Queensland international track Classic on the same Brisbane track. It suggested Cowan has some work still to do if he is to perform well on the Gold Coast.

He is the first Hercules Wimbledon athlete to compete in a Commonwealth Games for almost 50 years and only the second athlete from the Club to do so since it was formed in September 1967 through the merger of Hercules and Wimbledon Athletic Clubs. That athlete was pole vaulter Martin Higdon who finished 10th equal representing England in the Edinburgh Games in 1970.

Four years before that, Robin Woodland, who was a member of Hercules AC based at Tooting Bec, just missed out on a 440 yards hurdles medal at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica, where, representing England, he finished fourth, three-tenths of a second behind the bronze medallist.

Cowan will step out on the Commonwealth Games track for his first round heat on Sunday (April 8th) at around 7am. If he gets through to the next round, he will compete in the semi-final at around 11am on Monday (April 9th) with the final taking place on April 10th at 12.48pm. He is also in the English 4x400 metres relay squad. The heats are taking place at 3pm on April 13th with the finals the following evening at 8pm.

This is a busy weekend with the Club staging the popular annual Young Athletes Open Meeting for the 37th time on Sunday. It returns to Wimbledon Park stadium after having been switched to Carshalton last year following the disastrous fire which badly damaged the grandstand at Wimbledon Park. Over 350 athletes have entered more than 500 events at the meeting, which starts at 11am and runs through to around 5pm.

Many future Olympians and international athletes have cut their teeth at the Hercules Wimbledon meeting including sprinters Dina Asher-Smith and Adam Gemili, who in 2011 in his first full season in athletics, won the Under 20 100 and 200 metres (in the days when the meeting was held at Crystal Palace) setting Meeting Record times of 10.75 and 22.02 seconds.

Hercules Wimbledon’s top young sprinters Jaleel Roper and Chad and Rechmial Miller will be missing the action as they are away warm-weather training in preparation for the challenges ahead this summer. Roper is among eight of the club’s young athletes training in Cuba for 10 days under the guidance of sprint coach Paul Miller while his two sons are also away warm weather training.

Among those in action on Sunday will be teenager Zac Purnell who runs in the Under 20 Dave Clarke Mile. Zac who celebrates his 17th birthday this week, won the Fulham Palace 5km Parkrun on Saturday in an impressive personal best of 16:46, the top male age-graded performance. He won by 16 seconds to take almost two minutes off his previous best for the course set back in March 2014. Clubmate Rob Tuer was third in 17:08. Gina Galbraith was second woman finisher in Brockenhurst, while Claire and David Grima continued their preparations for the Virgin Money London Marathon later this month with strong runs in the Exmouth Parkrun. Claire was first woman home in 18:20, posting the top age-graded performance, while Dave was second overall out of 430 runners in 17:52.

Hercules Wimbledon’s Felix Allen and Tom Cheetham ran strongly in the Hyde Park 10km road race. Allen was top veteran Over-45 finisher in 37:57, taking eighth place out of 457 runners. Cheetham was 21st and second veteran Over-50, in 40:22.

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 Zac and Claire were in strong Parkrun form at the weekend

Zac and Claire were in strong Parkrun form at the weekend

Hercules Wimbledon