Written by PJAW
Peter Waddington reports on a crowning glory.
Full results - www.bal.org.uk
British Athletics League Division 3, Match 4
Swansea, August 27th 2011
K&P’s Men went into this match knowing that Leeds City had resigned the league and thus we only needed to beat one club in order to clinch promotion. At the end of a long, hard season, with the team seemingly weakened in several areas, it would have been understandable if we’d settled for coasting through. It is a great credit to all our athletes that they didn’t, instead they won the match and go up in style, equal on points with divisional champions, Glasgow City.
Things didn’t get off to the best of starts at the Travelodge, the night before competition. Middle Distance athlete - Craig Price - managed to injure himself turning over in bed. Luckily his legs were intact, but I’m reliably informed that an ill-judged entanglement between his chunky new watch and an intimate piercing caused untold damage to a nipple. Strangely, rumours of his misfortune seemed to lift the spirits of the rest of the team next morning…
After the deluge in Swansea last year, it was a relief to see the sun shining early on, although strong gusting winds and occasional showers still made waterproofs seem a sensible option. The opening Field events were a mixed bag. In the Hammer, Gareth Cook threw very well again (50.19m) to take 3rd in the A-string, but in the B – Andy Wheble looked uncomfortable in practice and after two fouls in competition, he was forced into an ultra-safe effort for 4th place, where he’d have expected better. In the Long Jump, Chris Hall proved very consistent, as his rivals lost form in the swirling winds, and took 3rd - A (6.59m), with Ben White in 4th (B).
The conditions also proved tricky for Pole Vault, where Bilen Ahmet was again below his best (3.60m, 3rd – B) with a double decathlon in his legs, and Gordon Lester managed to break two bars in the process of clearing 4.00m (2nd A). As a result of his landings on the bar, like Craig before him, poor Gordon also managed a freak injury to an intimate area, as shards of broken fibreglass lodged in his gluteus maximus. Unaccountably, there wasn’t a queue of volunteers forming to remove them, so he had to try and DIY it. I understand that an innocent bystander who unwittingly entered the changing rooms to discover Gordon operating on his nether regions in front of the mirror, may be in need of psychological therapy for many years to come…
Another unlucky injury occurred in the High Jump, where Maris Kuklis was looking good for a season’s best. As he made his approach with the bar at 1.80m, he appeared to pull (or cramp) his hamstring and as he tried to abort the run-up, he turned his ankle and was in a lot of pain. Unable to continue, Maris retired on 1.75m, but still finished 3rd – A. Bilen Ahmet also managed 1.75m for 2nd – B, behind Channel Islands’ international Dale Garland, who had treated spectators to the rare and somewhat oddball spectacle of “Western Roll” technique.
The Track was also the scene for early drama, quirkiness and near-disaster. Club raconteur and Epsom banker, Matt Field, had been pressed into A-string 400m Hurdles service and had either been unnerved by roommate Craig’s nipple adventure, or perhaps become a disciple of Adam Omisore’s quarter-mile starting strategies… at any rate, he made what looked like a blatant false start, then stopped short to make sure that all the Track judges were fully aware of it, but upon realising that there’d been no recall gun and everybody else was taking off to clear their first hurdle, he was finally hit by the notion that it might be an idea to start running again. He restarted with gusto, but soon realised that he’d surrendered too much ground to challenge the leaders and slowed to do just enough to secure 5th place. The fact that he still managed to run 55.87 suggests that it’s worth him considering shifting his winter focus to this distance, with 110H as the secondary event, rather than vice versa. In the B race, Danny Eckersley fought his way to 3rd, but the strong winds were far from ideal as he lacks the ballast Matt can call upon to cope with them.
More quirkiness abounded in the B 800m, where Jonathan Darby employed his usual front-running tactics, but found three more experienced opponents kicking past him in the last 200m. Supporters were intrigued to see him checking his watch as he neared the finishing straight and there was some heated debate as to whether he was checking his time for 700m, or had left something under the grill that needed turning to brown the other side? Whatever it was, it did the trick, as he ran a pb 1.59.92 despite the tough conditions. By contrast, Jamie McCullagh’s A-string race was so slow that he’d have needed a calendar to check his time. They crawled the first lap, before Jamie took off on a long 400m sprint for home, just being overhauled on the line for 2nd in 2.06.91.
The strong headwind seemed to inspire our 100m runners, with Justin “Ever”-Green making light of a minus 4.7 blast to finish 3rd, A, in 11.39. In the B race - U20, Tucker Bryant, made an auspicious long-awaited individual debut (after a promising relay leg last year), just winning it in 11.36. He had been reading Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” for his warm-up… unconventional, but obviously highly effective. Rumours are now flying that next year, Mr Barrington will not even countenance selecting a sprinter unless he can recite Turgenev’s “Fathers and Sons” in the original Russian.
The Steeplechase has been a happy hunting ground for K&P this season. In the B, James Robertson safely counted himself over all the barriers for 3rd place and looks to be getting back to good fitness after injury. In the A, Tom Beedell also finished 3rd and is also returning to better form, although not quite at his imperious best. Sadly, Tom is leaving K&P at the end of this season, having moved to North London and wanting a club with good prospects at national level in team cross countries and road races. He has been a great servant of our Club on the track, both in quality and in often volunteering to shoulder a heavy workload when we were short. Typically at Swansea, he doubled the ‘chase with the 5K, finishing a creditable 4th in the B. We will miss him, but wish him all the very best for the future. In the A 5K, Gordon Pearce made a very good fist of running the distance for the first time on the track, finishing 5th (15.23.13) and looks capable of being the one to take up Tom’s mantle in the future.
Back in the Field, the Discus was the event where the headwind could be deemed helpful and our throwers took full advantage. Andy Wheble made up for his Hammer disappointment with an excellent pb 44.51m (2nd – A), and the legendary Nick Owen almost matched him with 44.13m to win the B. Nick then went on to take a solid 3rd in the A-string Shot Putt (14.13m), with Men’s co-captain, Gareth Cook also taking 3rd – B.
In the 110H, Matt Field predictably finished his BAL season unbeaten, winning the A race in 15.80, but perhaps one of the performances of the day came from U20, Will Trimble in the B. In only his second outing over the senior height, Will showed he’d benefited from his technical training session on Thursday, finishing 2nd and running 17.97 into a -5.7 wind! He looks like a real hurdler in waiting… In the flat 400m, Adam Omisore found the conditions more testing, but finished a creditable 5th – A (50.92) and Chris Hall kept up his record of hanging on for tight victories, with a B win by two hundredths of a second.
The 1500m was a more comfortable affair, although I for one doubted the wisdom of U20 George Corcoran leading out the field, with Craig Price on his shoulder. They proved me wrong as they opened up a gap, with only one rival able to bridge it. Craig finished 2nd – A (4.01.24) and George won the B, having led most of the race (4.04.80). In the 200m Victor Nwagbara found the A race pretty hot, but fought hard for 4th (22.81), while Jordan Smith-Bent enjoyed the step down to B, winning comfortably in 23.13. Both then teamed up with Justin Green and Tucker Bryant for a safe (if not slick) 4x100m (43.40) and 3rd place. The same position was taken by our 4x400m squad (Jamie McCullagh, Danny Eckersley, Chris Hall, Adam Omisore), who all ran fighting legs, especially Adam, who very nearly held off the Channel Islands’ international, Tom Druce, to get an excellent split.
Over in the Field, both Ben White and Tariq Sheikh struggled to find their best Triple Jump form, with Ben 5th – A and Tariq 3rd – B, but they will be capable of a lot more next year with some good winter work behind them. Two K&P athletes who haven’t really struggled to hit their best this season are our wonderful Javelin twins, Felix Hatton and Chris Dack. Felix and Chris won the A and B respectively and finished the BAL season unbeaten as a pairing. They have played a big part in the team’s success, not least because when things didn’t go to plan it always kept our spirits up to know that they’d be there at the finish, bringing home the big points!
It has been a magnificent effort from the team this year and everybody who has turned out should feel very proud of what they have helped to achieve. I offer my heartiest congratulations to everybody and also to Team Manager, David Barrington, who has skilfully guided our Men to promotion. I must also thank the travelling supporters, who have made a big contribution to the team. It is a great achievement by our Men, especially given that already this season they have also won the Sward Trophy, the Rosenheim Western Divisional Championship and the Rosenheim Final. Next year will be a tougher challenge, but if we hit the ground running and give as much as we have this time round, we should have a great chance of staying up and enjoying the higher level of competition. In the meantime, let’s celebrate a year of unprecedented success for K&P!
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