Paul Byfield

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Last updated 25 March 2018

Paul Byfield, President for 2018/19

I was born into a large family (1 of 6 boys) and went to Sedgehill School in Catford. I played a lot of sport at school, including rugby, hockey, x country and tennis, in addition to athletics. My maths teacher, Ken Pike (ex BBHAC and Kent AC team manager, coach and President) was very instrumental in my introduction to athletics, in addition to other club members Jim Phelan, VP and Clive Morris.

I joined the club in 1983. John Powell was team manager at the time and we were one of the first BBHAC teams to qualify for what was then known as the National Young Athletes League Final (now YDL). I went on to appear in 3 finals, winning 6 medals overall and a couple of pairs of Dunlop trainers (the league was sponsored by Dunlop at the time; later sponsors were Woolworths and McDonalds!) In 1985 I had my best season as a young athlete and was made Captain of the Young Athlete’s team. I won 3 Kent County Championship titles at 400m, 400mH (the junior and senior titles were also won by Blackheath & Bromley athletes...... one of whom is now a coach and team manager, can you guess who?) and Triple Jump and went on later in the season to finish 5th in the South of England champs over 400m (50.86) and 6th in the 400mh (57.82) and represented London Schools over 400m in the English Schools championships in Hull, and ran for Kent in the Inter Counties Championships. That year I also finished 9th in the AAA final in the Triple Jump and just missed out on the AAAs final of the 400m and won the first of 2 AAAs medals in the 4x100m relay at the Nike Classic meeting at Crystal Palace (1985 & 1987). I made my British League debut that year at age 16, running the 400mh, and went on to compete in the British League and Southern League at various events for the next 18 years.


1985 AAA under20 champs, concentrating at the start of my 400m

I intended to take a year out of athletics in 1986 but came back in the spring and just did sprints and jumps; I ran windy 11.1 and 11.2 that year for 100m and did 13.56 for Triple Jump. I went back to playing Basketball while at college and represented London Colleges that season and also started training again for 400s and was running reasonably well again in 1987 over 400, (ran 50.97) but tore my hamstring whilst running a 400m at RAF Cosford and took a while to get back to something resembling fitness. In 1989 I ran 50.4 to come 4th in the 400m final at the Kent Championships.

Southern League match -100m, dip finish!

In 1990 while in my second year at Kingston Polytechnic (now University) I competed in the British Polytechnic Championships and came 3rd in the final of the 400m in a PB of 49.5. I went on that year to compete in a representative match for British Polytechnics, winning the 400m and I then finished 5th in the Kent Championships over 200 (22.8,) and 400 (49.8), behind Steve Heard amongst others. I also ran 49.9 at the Reading Gazette Trophy meeting in August that year.

In 1991 I ran well in the early season, running a new PB of 84.9 over 600 but got injured again at the first British League match of the year, managing to get back to run 50.9 in a southern league match later in the summer and eventually running a sub-50 relay split at the Kent relay championships at the end of the season. In between all of that I graduated with a degree in Law. After that I never really got back to the form I showed in 1990 and the pursuits of further education and work took over but I still turned out for the club in a variety of events, in the British League primarily in the triple jump and in the southern league team in a variety of events (even managing to run 2.04.50 for an 800m!).

Resting in between events at Norman Park!  

I went on to Nottingham University to study for a Master’s Degree in International Relations (I had at that point the aim of getting a job with the EU) and also met my wife, Nichola during that time; we have been married for 18 years and have 3 children, Jacob (now competing for the u15s team), Alice and Marley. I have been working in the legal team at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) since 2000.

Aside from competing I also served as a Southern League Team Manager on 2 occasions, in the late 90s and the early 00s. I managed to get what was then our 3rd team to promotion in my final year. I was made a Vice President (by then President Mike Davies) in 2001. I infamously competed in 10 events in 1 afternoon at a southern league match in 2002 (100,200,400,110mh, 400mh, LJ, TJ, HJ, SP, 4X100) and then quit athletics in 2004, prior to having a knee operation (!) I even once managed to Pole Vault in a match, after a 5 minute session with Jim Day (Past President) I actually managed to get over the bar, but my High Jump PB is higher than my Pole Vault PB as a result of that poor showing!!!

I made a ‘comeback’ as a Master’s Athlete in 2009 (the Team was managed by Tom Philips at the time) but competed twice and got injured twice so decided that enough was enough. I went on to have keyhole surgery on my other knee in 2011. Most recently, after the death of my mother from cancer I decided to row a marathon on a rowing machine (twin goals of raising money for Cancer Research and getting fit) and completed the row in 3hrs 7mins and 39 secs. Other similar challenges have been planned but I now need to find the time to do them...... next year perhaps???

Completing my marathon row in October 2016

I also served as Head of Active Athletics, 2009 – 2011 and am currently also Chair of Development. I have always been proud to be a member of the club and it is an honour to be chosen by Nick and to follow him as the new Club President. I’ve been a member for 35 years; one of the constant themes in the club during all that time is how much our members strive for success, be they athletes, coaches, team manages or other volunteers. I'm keen to do all I can to contribute to that success in what should prove to be a pivotal year for our great club; I know that I have a tough act to follow after Nick’s great year as President.

 

 



And the winner of rhe Presidents swindle is... Dave White!

 

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