Matt Threadgold and Arne Dumez report:
Following a Royal Wedding and the FA Cup Final the day before, the Southern Athletics League at Battersea’s Millennium Arena promised to be prime viewing material for the Sunday. The iconic claret and gold vest draped an array of international-level athletes roaming the track and field, ready to get the proceedings underway under the tropical conditions of central London.
With a total of 64 points up for grabs in the throwing events, the Belgrave powerhouse grabbed no less than 41! While we struggled to keep up with some outstanding opponents in the men and women’s hammer throws, the javelin was profoundly successful as the men won all A and B points. This was due, in part, to veteran Abi Ekoku’s return to the old stomping ground. His experience in the shotput and discus was key to our success on the day and we look forward to seeing him back in action again soon.
Starting the day of for the men on the track was Sam Shore in the 400mh. With expectation to continue his perfect record of the 2018 season Sam delivered the win. Backing up in the B string was Mike ‘Mr Jetset’ Burslem who – despite some aeroplane arms over the hurdles – came in 2nd with a PB time of 62.10. A bit of refining on the hurdling technique will surely get Mike under the 60s barrier. Watch this space.
The 800m race kicked off the day’s middle-distance showdown and featured a few of the day’s best performances. On the women’s side, Mhairi Hall and Mhairi McDonald held their own in a strong field led home by Blackheath’s Katie Ann McDonald in 2:11.23. Not only did both put down a season’s best in 2:33.53 and 2:46.02 respectively, they brought home 2 points for the team each.
The men’s race starred Neville Harris and Andrew Fyfe as scorers and Rob Norville and young hope Timin Kanani. Blackheath’s Prince Reid broke out of the stable looking like Bram Som and led the pack through a quick first lap. When the lactic sniper hit the poor lad, Neville tagged himself into pole position for the final 300m. It was only in the last 80m that he noticed Andy venturing out of the slipstream and slipping to the front for the win in 1:57.59 – his first sub-2min clocking! The Bels took it home in a 1-2 with Neville’s 1:58.02 supported by Timin and Rob who both secured SBs in 2:04.61 and 2:10.65. What a race!
Endurance fans could look forward to a great lineup in the women’s 5000m. Georgie Fenn – now fully recovered from her London marathon exploits – heroically jumped into the A race as a sharpener ahead of the Vitality 10k. She held onto Chelmsford’s Elizabeth Davies for just over a lap but quickly settled into her own rhythm to try and hold off Alexa Joel, who was encroaching at a unnerving rate. A lonely, hot 12.5 rounds finally saw Georgie finish in a huge PB of 18:04! The supremely reliable Emma Howsham saw herself isolated early on and had to make good use of the home crowd to muscle through a tough race. That clearly did not deter her from putting down a big performance as onlookers cheered her on to a PB of 20:16, matching Georgie’s 3 points haul.
Charlie’s group put forward a phenomenal train for the 3000m. Led out by an ambitious young Blackheath buck, Paskar Owor maintained his composure as he had promised the team he would keep his cool and run for the win. Sure enough, the young lad faded rather early on and Paskar saw his chance to move past his opponent for a 8:59 first-place clocking. Right behind him was Stephen Gardner, who after a PB in the 5000m in the last SAL decided he was entitled to a 3000m PB too – typical millennial. This particular snowflake was right to assume and rode his opponent to a beautiful 9:23 PB. But the train did not stop there! Ross, Alex and Ben worked well off each other and alternated lead every lap. Looking like if the Three Stooges ran the Nike Sub2 attempt, the lads eventually rode their train all the way to a series of sub-10min PBs. Beautiful.
The men’s sprints squad saw a welcome return to the team for Greg Cackett, an Olympian as part of the bobsleigh men’s four earlier this year in PyeongChang. Greg admitted he was a tad rusty, had done very little specific track work and no blocks practice. His dominant 10.79 100m victory reminded everyone what a superb talent he is, as if there was any need for that. Another experienced Team GB athlete delivering maximum points in event you wouldn’t usually expect to see him in was William Sharman. A false start in the 110mh A race sadly meant a no points return, but he was eager to help the team and put himself forward for the 200m instead. He convincingly ran away from the field for first place in a time of 22.0. Backing up both Greg and Will fantastically well in the B string of 100 and 200 was Peter Wild, wins in both 11.35 for 100m and 22.4 for 200m meant maximum points across the two events.
The Men’s 400m A string saw Christian Meloni make his SAL debut, finishing 4th in a strong field with a time of 58.67. Keen to run every 400m event on the programme Mike Burslem returned to the track and secured a solid 3rd place in the B string with a 53.68 run.
The Men’s jumps were helped by Tony Ganio who was on side to provide a few tips and tweaks along the way. Long jump novice Greg Cackett started the event with a few modest jumps but improved as the competition went on. Greg won the event with his final jump taking the lead with a distance of 6.29m. Whether Greg and Tony team up again remains to be seen but they have 100% win record thus far. In the B long jump Zack Darlington left the competition with a distance of 5.77m to finish 2nd not wanting to risk injury through further jumps.
In the triple jump Matt Threadgold and Jean-Claude Doukrou took the runway. While not exactly known for their triple jump prowess, they stepped up to see what points they could add to the Belgrave total. Matt came 3rd in the A with 11.16m and Jean-Claude’s 10.50m was good for a silver in the B before departing for his Steeplechase race.
In the high jump Peter Wild continued to impress with a leap of 1.85m to take 2nd in the A string, Zack Darlington cleared 1.65m for 2nd in the B String too. After 2 of our 6 club poles returned to Battersea, Pete Mayfield was able to get back on the runway in the Pole Vault. Limited by the availability of poles, Pete could only manage 4th in the A string. If anyone does know where our other missing poles are do let us know.
Blackheath once again unleashed its young talents onto the 1500m race in the form of Morgan Squibb who took it out hard and held on for the win in 4:41.61. Mhairi Hall – properly warmed up after her fast 800m effort – secured another 2 points for the Belles with a 5:06.77 finish. In the B string, we were delighted to see Lizzie Goldie-Scot come back for more racing action after her strong performances in the Rosenheim meet and the Marlow 5Mi the previous weekend. She followed Mhairi across the line in 5:22.51 for 2 more points – consistency is the name of the game!
The men were once again subjected to the sight of Andy’s heels as he smoothly pulled away from the pack – for a new profile picture, rumour has it. Following his momentous 800m PB and with his 4x400m leg in mind, Andy jogged it home in 4:12.87. Paskar Owor, who was wearing a B scorer bib for the occasion, decided to follow suit after his 3000m win and his own relay leg on the horizon and did just enough to secure another 1-2 finish for the Bels. What was that about consistency? Alex and Rob fancied an extra portion of lactic and jumped into the non-scoring race. They can complement their outstanding performances in the 3000m and the 800m with a 4:35.50 and 4:41.86 1500m, respectively. Two more SBs to go please!
The 3000m S/C produced a standout debut performance from Arne Dumez. A steeplechase rookie, he ran away from the field looking majestic in his claret and gold matching shades. We hope his performance might spur one of his distance training partners to give the steeples a go next time. In the meantime, Arne was superbly backed up by Jean-Claude who brought home a solid 2nd in the B string and get the team valuable points.
The men’s relays saw Will Sharman lead home the quartet of Nick Hamilton, Peter Wild and Nick Barrett to 4×100 victory. The 4×400 gave it what they could but were unable to match the strength in depth of Blackheath and Bromley and Chelmsford so finished in 3rd.
The ladies 400mh saw two true team players step up and help the team accumulate some points. Helen Brown came in 4th in the A race with Leanne Bettis finishing in 3rd in the B. Over the sprint hurdles just Jodie Albrow made it to the start line for Belgrave, a performance of 16.4 gave her 2nd place. No B runner in the 100mh meant more points were dropped which would prove to be costly.
As for the Women’s sprints young Marisia Anderson ran the A String 100m her time of 13.73 placed her 4th. Cynthia Kensington ran both B string 100 (3rd in 13.85) and 200m (28.91). Sandra Dike was the A string in the 200m and came home at the bottom of the podium with a 27.77 effort. In the 400m A string Chyna Russell produced a PB of nearly a second and a half to run 56.18 to take second place. This performance ranks her joint 11th in the country for U20 women. Jurgita Levertaviciute came through for a 2nd place in the B string with a time of 65.75, helping the team pick up some more much-needed points.
The ladies jumps were mostly filled with by non specialists who tried but were unable to match the jumps from the strong competitors from other teams. Jodie and Mia came 3rd in both the A string long and triple jump, respectively. Mia – a woman of many talents – was the lone Belgrave representative in the women’s pole vault finishing in 3rd again in the A string.
Ladies team performed the relays with a weakened team due to injuries and absence. The 4×100 ended with a close finish just missing out on 2nd place, finished 3rd. The 4×400 came through to finish 4th.
Last but not least a mention must go to the fantastic officials and helpers without whom the event couldn’t have taken place. From Tony and Gillian Fairclough leading on the track and field. Keri Mackenzie, Jojo Rhodes, Patrick McDougall & Bill Laws were on hand to help with the hammer and top up their tans in the process as the sun covered Battersea all afternoon. Carl Lawton and Richard McMillan were spread across the field events helping where needed. On the track Bob Bridges was marksman with Charlie Dickinson and Megan James keeping a close eye on the stopwatches as timekeepers.