Young Chichester Runners & AC athlete Fleur Hollyer had a dramatic start to her winter season at the South of England Indoor Championships at Lee Valley Athletics Centre in north London.
Competing in the under-17 age group, she was 0.05sec short of her personal best in the 60m. With a fluent drive out the blocks she recorded 8.41sec for fourth position, one place off qualification to the semi-finals.
But she was involved in real drama in the 200m. Drawn in lane five, and running perhaps her best ever indoor race, she was lying in a qualifying second position coming off the top bend, when an official walked across the track directly into her path forcing her to take evasive action into the inside lane to narrowly avoid hitting him, resulting in her trailing in, back in fourth place.
After much discussion, the track referee rightly decided the race had to be re-run, the result of which saw her finish second in an equal PB time of 27.66sec and qualify for the semi-final, where she recorded 27.70sec for fourth spot.
Her coach David Churcher said: “It was lucky this incident didn’t have a much more severe consequence.”
Hollyer will all be at the same venue later in the month to compete in the annual London Indoor Games.
Hollyer's dad Lee, who took the footage you can see above, said: "Fortunately Fleur just managed to avoid him, not sure how, so it was more of a brush past.
"On the day it was all about the competition, she was shaken but desperate to continue and have the race re-run. It's only after when watching the video properly you realise how close and dangerous it actually was.
"Although the officials did the only fair thing they could and re-run the heat it's not without consequence. Fleur was properly robbed of a PB in the original heat and maybe again in the semi-final if she had be properly rested beforehand.
"I also felt sorry for the winner in her heat who had the potential to go all the way and do well in the final but failed to progress through the semis due to having run an extra race than all the other competitors."