Southern Athletics League Report – Match 3

Southern Athletics League, Division One – Match 3

Welwyn, Saturday 17 June

It was a scorching day as we arrived at the Welwyn Sprts Centre track to find it was a proxy velodrome with cyclists zooming around the track at 11am. Despite the bizarre set of circumstances and an odd 6/7 lane track setup the team of 40+ Belgrave athletes fought bravely to take on Herts Phoenix, Bedford and County and Dartford Harriers in the closest match of the season.

Men’s Team

Sprints and Hurdles

Antonio Jose Araque ran well in the 100m and 200m A races to continue his seasons progress. Whilst Talal Alalami ran well for his team debut in the 100m B and 200m non scoring runs where he was accompanied by fellow debutante Matthew Ayoola who also put in solid runs in the 100m and 200m non scoring.

In the 400m Gareth Holden ran brilliantly in 400m A race as he returns to fitness, leading the whole way before being pipped on the line by the Bedford athlete. It was another gutsy run from Thomas Steindler as he took the win in the 400m B race with Mike Burlsem putting in a solid run as a non scorer along with Richard McMillan who stepped out for a 400m run in between field duties.

It was two-for-two for Sam Shore as he opened the day with another win in the 400m hurdles with an official SAL man of the match perfomance before trying it out on the flat in the 200m B race to take the win.

Middle Distance

Neville Harris and Adam Cameron paired up in the 800m with Arne Dumez trying his hand as a non-scorer to see what it was all about. Neville pushed on with the front runners to come home with another solid sub-2min display to take third in the A race with Adam being pipped on the line to second place in the B race whilst Arne but in a brave display to give himself a solid benchmark for the new distance.

The 1500m saw Matt Welsh enjoy the use of fresh legs having been given the respite of not doing the 5000m prior and ran brilliantly to secure second place and a PB in the A race. Meanwhile Arne Dumez slogged it out with the 800m still in his legs to bravely make it through in second place in the B race, thankfully he had the benefit of training partner Alex Mills racing alongside him as a non-scorer to push him the whole way around.

With no water provided by the host team and the track referee deeming it “illegal” to hand water bottles to athletes mid race the punishment level was high for the men who all put in brave runs in the 5000m. Alexander Miller ran brilliantly to take second in the A race with Ed Auden not far behind taking the win in B race whilst Scott Mills battled on to face his demons and successfully complete the race after having to step off at a previous match.


Strong performances from Chris Privett and Tom Ikeda in the throws ensured the other teams were kept on their toes in the discus and hammer throw. Grant Sprigings made his debut for the team as he joined Tom in the shot put to take a handy second place in the A. Meanwhile Matthew Threadgold helped out in the javelin with Tom as they both claimed second places.


There were gaps left right and centre for the men’s jumps even with the respite of no pole vault at this event. It was Bob’s sprinters that came to the rescue to plug three of the gaps with Antonio Jose Araque and Matthew Threadgold taking care of the long jump whilst Gareth Holden put his hand up to plug a gap in the triple jump. Unfortunately there were no takers for the high jump which meant vital points were missed.


The men’s teams put on a dominant display in both relays to showcase their team strengths. The 4×100 team of Antonio Jose Araque, Talal Alalami, Matthew Ayoola and Mike Burslem put in a class showing of brilliant changeovers to lead the whole way to the end with a tight dip finish. Then it was onto the 4×400 team with a strong pool of athletes to choose from, Thomas Steindler, Neville Harris, Adam Cameron and Gareth Holden went from strength to strength as they increased their lead from leg to leg to take the win.

Women’s Team

Sprints and Hurdles

Making her SAL team debut Lauren Newman put in a solid performance in the 100m and 400m whilst Emma Watkins stepped up to the 100m to garner some extra points for the team. Firmly back in the mix Jessica Case and Rose O’Brien once again took on the 400m hurdles and 100m hurdles combo with Rose also adding the 400m to her schedule. Meanwhile in the 200m Jessica Case stepped in at the last minute to plug a gap with Cristina De Cardenas also being promoted from non-scorer to scorer not long before.

Middle Distance

The hot conditions and interesting track layout made it an interesting prospect for our runners as Nelle Quispel, Keri Mackenzie and Fiona Maddocks took on the 800m. A slow opening lap left our ladies pushing the pace to run a negative split with Nelle taking third in the A race and Keri winning the B race with a PB whilst Fiona pushed through for another solid run.

Sophie Harris put in a strong performance in the 3000m, where she sat comfortably behind the Bedford athlete before taking off with 3 laps to go to take another decisive win. She was backed up by Samantha Amend who dropped her race mileage to the extreme to support the team and take out the B race comfortably whilst Lizzie Goldie-Scot made tracks not far behind as a non-scorer to come within 3 seconds of her PB with Maureen Noel also puting in a good run in the heat. The ladies 1500m saw Saron Haileselase and Jojo Rhodes brave the heat with niggles and low energy levels in tow to muster a solid second place in the A and B races respectively.

Helen Brown put in yet again another a consistent performance in the steeplechase where she was joined by Leanne Bettis who at the last minute decided to see what this track lark was all about after spending her time firmly in the field. A literal baptism of fire in the scorching heat saw Leanne bravely finish the B race in none other than second place scoring much needed points for the team.


The ladies put in another impressive display in the throws. Mia Callenberg and Leanne Bettis won their respective A and B discus and with Mia being pipped to second in the A hammer throw whilst Leane took the B string win. Then it was onto the javelin where Leanne Bettis was joined by Marieke Meleen who nursing her hamstring injury still managed a standing throw for third place for both. Meanwhile, Vilma Thompson took third in the shot put B with Mia battling it out to claim second place in the A.


It was a tough day for the ladies in the jumps as we missed a couple of key players. Mia Callenberg and Helen Brown took care of the triple jump with both finishing third overall. Emma Watkins put in another solid display in the long jump A with Marieke Meleen putting her body on the line in the B string suffering a hamstring twinge – we wish her a speedy recovery.  The high jump proved comical with Emma Watkins being roped in last minute under the gentle persuasion of her teammate Rose O’Brien to prove that 1m is a totally feasible height. After a couple of practise jumps both ladies came away with two successful jumps and three points between them to add to the pot.


It was the middle distance ladies that saved the day for our ladies relay teams. Emma Watkins, Mia Callenburg, Cristina de Cardenas and Jess Case combined for the 4×100 where unfortunately a sketchy changeover meant a DQ for the girls who show promise for a great future team. The 4×400 team of Keri Mackenzie, Nelle Quispel, Lauren Newman and Rose O’Brien battled it out with Herts Phoenix to take second place.

In Summary…

The team put in some excellent performances on both the track and field but in such a close match the gaps in the men’s team jumps and hurdles meant we were forced to relinquish too many points. Despite our best efforts we were pushed to last place by only a margin of 7 points to joint second and third place holders Herts Phoenix and Bedford with first placed Dartford a mere 14 points away at the top.

Thank You

As always our brilliant officials make it possible for us to compete and earn us vital points. Tony and Gillian Fairclough, Charlie Dickinson, Aidan Grace, Bob Bridges, Richard McMillan and Robert Norville put in a true show of team work as they perished in the sun to ensure all jumps were measure, sandpits were raked and times were kept. A big thank you to all family and friends that were there on the day to cheer us on too!

Team Managers Match Awards

Man of the Match – Antonio Jose Araque for consistent team performances across the sprints, jump and relays and general team spirit and leadership.

Woman of the Match – Leanne Bettis for a dominant display in the throws before stepping in to cover the 2000 steeplechase.