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Strong Beagles will be looking to defend their national crown

PUBLISHED: 17:17 01 June 2011

Great Britain's Gianni Frankis competes in the 60 metres hurdles

Great Britain's Gianni Frankis competes in the 60 metres hurdles

EMPICS Sport

It was not until the final day of the British Athletics League season last August that Newham & Essex Beagles completed a hat-trick of Premiership titles.

But that did not age team manager Rowan Griffiths too much.

He savoured every moment of his first year in charge of the best club in the country –even if they were not the dominant force throughout.

Griffiths was testing the water – blooding it as he calls it – and he came out the other end more than happy.

“With it being my first year in charge they might not have reacted to me,” said Griffiths, 36.

“But I was really pleased with what happened. The team took everything on board and we ended up champions.

“What did I learn? That being a team manager is a real juggling act. You need the ability to switch and change and slot people in when others pull out late on a Thursday or a Friday for a match on the Saturday.

“We have won three in a row, we want to extend that – but we know people will be gunning for us.”

It will be quite a day for Welshman Griffiths, a former high jumper, when the new season opens on Saturday, June 4 in Cardiff.

As they head down the M4 to the outstanding new athletics centre in the Welsh capital, the adrenaline rush will gradually grow for Griffiths.

“I am a Swansea boy,” he said.

“I was born and bred there and I used to compete for Swansea Harriers.

“I know a number of the Cardiff team, I know their manager James Williams and I am so excited about going to my home country and taking the team there.”

Newham secured their hat-trick of crowns at Lee Valley when they won the last of the four matches of last season.

But it was one of the most competitive seasons for years, as Woodford Green with Essex Ladies won the opening match and then Birchfield Harriers took the second.

Newham were second in the table until match three at Eton, which they won to put themselves in the driving seat for the season finale.

Griffiths added: “We struggled early. There were too many other competitions which drew athletes in all sorts of directions and they had commitments all over the place.”

One major key for Griffiths is that he has not lost any squad members.

Hammer thrower Simon Brown, who is 37 this year, has been tempted to stay after he had talked about retiring, while new acquisitions include sprinters James Ellington and David Bolarinwa.

Ellington is 10th in the domestic 100m rankings with a 10.42 in Orlando at the start of last month (May) before a wind-assisted 10.12 at Loughborough where Bolarinwa ran a wind-assisted 10.32.

“The squad is looking strong,” said Griffiths. “We have strength in depth and we are not panicking.”


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