How to Renew Your Membership

If you haven’t already renewed your Bedford and County membership, you can do that now at a reduced rate.

Given the unusual circumstances this year, the club committee has decided on a 2 stage approach:

  • Stage 1 is to ask now for renewal to the club at a reduced flat rate for the year, with the option of adding EA (England Athletics) membership to this.
  • Stage 2 would come later in the year when social distancing restrictions are relaxed, with the option of renewing the stadium pass with Fusion. We will not ask for anything further for the club element at that time and will be expecting Fusion to offer a discounted cost.

Licenced Competition Suspended until at Least 30th June 2020

In response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, England Athletics have extended the suspension of all licenced competition until at least 30th June 2020. This means that all club competitions, including leagues, championships and open meetings due to take place up to that date have been cancelled. Additionally, the English Schools Athletics Association cancelled the 2020 English Schools Championships some weeks ago.

All other collective athletic activity, including group training, remains suspended until at least the end of May. England Athletics say that they are likely to review this again during the week commencing 4th May.

However, the suspension of competition does not seem to apply to unlicensed virtual time trials, so long as these comply with social distancing rules. In fact, England Athletics have recently provided free access to the virtual running platforms OpenTrack and Racefully for all member clubs. A number of virtual races that club members may want to investigate are now popping up on OpenTrack (

Please see for the full England Athletics statement on the suspension of competitions.

Bedford & County’s European Masters Hurdles Champion Tennyson James took the top Award at the Bedford Borough Sports Awards held at the Corn Exchange on Monday night.

Bedford Borough Awards night is always an inspiring occasion with hundreds of outstanding sports men and women nominated in eleven different categories, with many of the nominees internationals and some even world champions in their respective sports.

Winning an award is not easy, but Tennyson deservedly triumphed from a field of fourteen nominees from ten different sports to take the Adult Sports Personality of the Year.
His citation reads:
“Bedford & County athlete Tennyson has achieved outstanding success on the track this year at both National and International level. Earlier in the season he set a new British age group record and Championships best performance in winning the 60m at the British Masters Indoor Athletics Championships. He went on to take an international title in the 100m hurdles at the European Masters Championships in Venice to become European Champion 2019.”
Two other members were also nominated for the Adult Personality Award:

Frankie Johnson, the UK number one U20 Pole Vaulter, who won indoor and outdoor titles in that age group as well as finishing 5th and 7th in the Senior Indoor and Outdoor National Championships respectively. He also represented Great Britain at the prestigious Under 20 International in Mannheim.
Alek Swiecicki brought home a multitude of medals from the European Masters Championships: a gold in the Steeplechase (setting a new British record by some 19 seconds); a silver in the 5000m and a brace of bronzes for individual and team in the cross country.

Five club members were among the twenty nine nominated for the Junior Sports Personality of the Year:
Alex Alston who was 2nd in the England Athletics U17 Steeplechase and also 2nd in the Youth Nations Cup representing England, ranking 5th in the UK.
Etienne Maughan, who was 4th in both hurdles and long jump at the England Athletics U15 Championships, 5th in the 100m at the English Schools Championships and ranked in the UK top ten in four different events.

Stephen Simmons was English Schools Octathlon Champion, ranking number one in the UK, 2nd in the schools international pentathlon, 2nd in the England Athletics U17 hurdles (ranking second) and also ranked 7th in the UK in the discus.
Gracie Wall was English Schools U15 High Jump Champion in her first year in the age group, and also finished 4th in the England Athletics Indoor Championships and 5th in the Outdoor Championships, ranking 4th in the UK.

Tia Wilson not only finished 1st in the Inter Counties Cross Country, 4th in the National Cross Country and 5th in the English Schools Cross County, but also claimed 3rd place in the English Schools U19 3000m and 2nd in the Youth Nations Cup 300m. In addition, Tia has achieved the qualifying time for the Olympic Trials in swimming at 1500m front crawl.

Wheelchair racer Varun Bandi was nominated in the Disability Sport Award Category. He was a founder member of the Club’s wheelchair racing section. His achievements this year include 3rd place in the London Mini Marathon. He trains at the track on Sunday mornings and plays wheelchair tennis at Riverside Tennis Club.
The club was also nominated for the Sports Club of the Year, mainly for the development of young coaches.

Guest of honour, Bedford Resident James Keothavong, answered questions about his life as one of the world’s top tennis umpires. Apart from being hit full on the head by a wild shot (and he even laughed about that at the time), he enjoyed being in the high chair and controlling even the most temperamental players citing humour and good communication with the players as vital to his success. He said that the greatest privilege of his career so far was being in the Chair for the epic 2017 Australian final between Federer and Nadal.

It’s a brilliant reflection on Bedford and County that so many of our athletes were nominated. Well done to all the nominees (and especially Tenny), and also to all of the Bedford and County coaches, clubmates and volunteers who have been key to their development.



Back in July Bedford and County AC’s Gracie Wall won gold in the Under 15 Girls High Jump at the English Schools Championships. It wasn’t easy. The Under 15 competition covers school years eight and nine. Of the twenty-one girls who were selected by their counties, only two were year eights. One of them finished last. The other was Gracie. As the competition progressed, and the heights went up, one-by-one the other jumpers dislodged the bar. Gracie kept on clearing it. At 1 metre 62 centimetres there were still seven athletes in it. Three failed to clear that height. Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium was buzzing. Amongst the Bedfordshire and Luton team, the excitement was growing. Could Gracie do it? The bar was raised to 1.65. She failed in her first attempt. Lucy Fellows went clear. Gracie nailed it on her second. The others didn’t make it. The bar was now at 1.68. There were only two athletes left. Gracie would need a PB to win. Gracie and Lucy both tried and failed twice at the new height. “I knew she would win on countback if we both failed 168cm,” says Gracie. “This was a new height for me and well above my ‘eye line’, which was quite intimidating.” Gracie held her nerve to clear the bar on her third and final attempt. The other girl failed. Gracie had won, setting a new PB into the bargain. In the stands, the Bedfordshire and Luton team were euphoric.

“My coach has taught me to really believe in myself and I did to clear that height,” Gracie says. She is coached at Bedford and County by Barry Johnson. He has not only taught her the technical side of high jumping, but also worked hard on her strength and conditioning. “Plus self-belief and how to be quite single-minded,” which is evident in her extreme level of focus when competing. Gracie says that other athletes at the club, as well as the coaches, physios and other volunteers have made it, “an incredibly friendly and enjoyable environment to train and improve as they always offer encouragement and support. After English schools, I couldn’t believe how many other coaches, athletes and parents knew what happened and the fact they were all coming over to say well done. I really felt part of a fantastic club environment.” Gracie mentions the part played by her schools. “My ex school PE teacher [at Etonbury], Mr Bodger, saw I could jump quite high and arranged for me to meet and join in with Barry Johnson and I really appreciate that.” Her current school, Samuel Whitbread, is also “incredibly supportive”. And she points to the part played by her mum and dad. “My parents give up a lot of their own time to make sure I can travel and train most days of the week and will always be there at competitions with me – all over the country.”

Although the English Schools High Jump victory was the highlight of her season, it wasn’t the only success. She also qualified for the English Schools Combined Events Championships, which were held in Exeter in September. And she came home with a PB in the pentathlon, finishing fourteenth of the forty-one competitors.

Not that the season was entirely plain sailing. No season ever is. There were some lows as well as highs. She was disappointed to finish outside of the medals in the England Athletics U15 / U17 Championships, and she felt she could have done better than bronze at the South of England Championships. “My heights were well below my PB,” she says. Gracie is now in winter training mode. Her priorities are, “to keep enjoying myself and stay fit and healthy. I am really keen to win National indoors and Outdoors high jump and retain my high jump title at English Schools. I will again compete in multi events and want to medal in the final. My aim for the next few years,” she says, “is to keep learning and improving and be the best athlete and person that I can be. I know what this will take and the commitments and sacrifices needed, and I will work hard to achieve this.”

Everybody at Bedford and County will be willing Gracie on.

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Bedford and County AC’s 18 year-old Pole-Vaulting sensation, Frankie Johnson, is 6 ft 2 inches tall. “I’ve never been the smallest kid, or the slimmest, and everyone’s always said, ‘you should be a rugby player, you should be a thrower.’” Proving them wrong has helped to motivate Frankie to become a record-breaking pole vaulter. Four years ago, Frankie shot to the top of the UK all-time under 15 list with a jump of 4 metres, 32 centimetres. An indoor Under 17 record of 4.92 followed two years later. This season Frankie’s highest vault of 5.15 topped the country’s Under 20 rankings, and put him in ninth place overall in the UK. He was the youngest member of the senior top ten.

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