Written by PJAW
Our BAL correspondent's summary of events at a broiling Kingsmeadow
British Athletics League Division 3, Match 3
Kingston, July 6th 2013
On a weekend of notable British sporting triumphs, the K&P Men’s team produced another excellent result, but fell just short of a home victory by the narrowest of margins as Bristol & West sneaked ahead of us by a single point. This was certainly down to misfortune, as 3 of our best performers injured themselves on the day and Team Manager, David Barrington, was left to fret over what might have been with the extra points they’d have contributed if 100% healthy.
For once, it was a hot and relatively still day, perhaps even too hot, as the officials suffered, toiling in the sun. The team was shorn of one or two regulars and featured 3 debutants, all of whom played their part in a great team effort. One such was Steve Simmonds, who decided at 40 years of age to take up the Hammer again after a couple of decades out of the sport. He found himself in the unenviable position of filling in for Men’s Field Captain and Club record holder, Gareth Cook, but proved a very able deputy, throwing close to his PB and taking 2nd in the B (36.25m). In the A-string, Andy Wheble went even better, taking the risk of adding another turn in the circle and being rewarded with a 44.24m PB to take 4th.
At the other end of the debutant age-spectrum were our two U20 High Jumpers, Alex Mackintosh and Matthew Broderick. Both were unfazed by their introduction to this level of senior competition and although they couldn’t quite match their very top form, they did produce the best points return we’ve managed in BAL HJ this season, with Alex 4th A (1.85m) and Matthew 3rd B (1.70m).
It was a similar story in the Pole Vault, where Bilen Ahmet (3.60m – =3rd A) and Gordon Lester (3.40m – 2nd B) struggled to hit the highs of previous seasons, but earned some excellent points. Long Jump was taking place at the same time, with Matt Houlden (6.56m) and Chris Hall (6.55m) winning the A & B respectively. Sadly, Chris tore his hamstring in the process, ruling him out of Triple Jump and the 110 Hurdles. That meant Matthew Broderick was unexpectedly pressed into service on TJ, where he acquitted himself admirably, setting two PBs and finishing 3rd B (12.63m), with Cambridge man, Matt Houlden, not quite able to replicate his recent Varsity success against Exeter AC & Oxford University jumper Sam Trigg, finishing 2nd A (13.79m).
On the track, Danny Eckersley defied a painful ankle to finish the 400 Hurdles (6th A) in 57.52 and Loic Malroux showed his potential in the event coming 3rd B in 57.95, a run which could have been even quicker if he hadn’t clattered a hurdle on the final bend, which threw his balance off for a few strides. In the 800m, Jonathan Darby fought hard to stay with the leaders, but their 1:52s pace was a touch too nippy for him and he paid for it in the finishing straight when he’d looked set for a PB (5th A 1:56.66s). Chris Bannon, in the B race, did manage a PB (1:58.58 – 2nd), but aggravated a foot injury in the process. As a result, he found the 5K a very painful experience later in the day, but still showed huge grit to finish 4th - A (15:39.52). It is to be hoped that it isn’t a metatarsal fracture as is feared. Gordon Pearce also ran very strongly on a grueling day to finish just behind Chris, 5th overall and handily winning the B race in 15:44.66.
The BAL 110H has sometimes been a mixed bag over the years, but Matt Houlden found himself in an unusually high quality field, finishing 7th – A in a creditable 16.33s. The B race was also tough, but Loic Malroux stepped in for the injured Chris Hall and ran his best time since joining K&P (16.32s) to finish 5th. Loic then found himself filling in for yet another injured athlete, when Chris Dack was forced to withdraw from the Javelin, and he threw a season’s best 44.51m (3rd – B), with William Trimble stepping up to A-string and firing his own SB (54.42m) to also finish 3rd. William undoubtedly wants more, but he’s moving in the right direction and with his university finals complete, he can now relax and focus on his training!
Chris Dack’s injury had come in the Discus, where he’d maintained his excellent form with 42.53m (3rd – A). Sadly, co-competitor Andy Wheble couldn’t quite carry his wonderful recent run of performances into this competition as his throws erred off to the right, but he still got one out to a respectable 37.92m (3rd – B) and scored good points as a result. Chris Dack’s elbow was the problem that had kept him out of the Javelin, but he bravely defied it to putt the Shot and was rewarded with a B win (12.57m). Our stalwart A-string, Nick Owen, showed no pre-wedding nerves as he threw one out to 14.65m to win a high-quality competition. We wish him all the very best for his big day!
Back on the track, we were without the services of the in-form sprinter, Tom Butcher, due to illness, but still had some able backup in the shape of Andre Nembhard and Justin Green. Our A-string, Jordan Smith-Bent, is another who has been setting new PBs this season and he found himself in a super-hot 100m, finishing 3rd in an impressive 10.81s. Our B-racer, Andre, is also closing in on his best form and finished 2nd in 11.02s. In the 200m, standards were again high, with Jordan 4th – A (22.25s), and Justin Green forced to draw on his newfound 400m strength in the B race (22.34s – 2nd).
The 400m, itself, was even more productive as Tim Kuria flowed through the A-race, destroying the field as he did so and finishing 1st in another super-quick time (48.27s). Joe Gaynor also dipped below 50s in the B-string, finishing 2nd in 49.98s. Both later joined Jon Darby and the evergreen Victor Nwagbara in the 4x400m relay, where 3 fine legs kept us in touch with a strong pack, allowing Tim Kuria to sweep past our rivals majestically with a fabulous 47.50s split for victory and a 3:20.80 clocking. Victor had previously teamed up with Justin Green, Jordan Smith-Bent and Andre Nembhard in a tight 4x100m relay, where we were narrowly pushed down into 3rd, despite posting an excellent 42.85s.
It’s a wonder that Jonathan Darby had the energy for his 4x400m leg, as he’d also run the 1500m after his 800 and looked exhausted, finishing 7th – A (4:15.40). Andy Robinson was his B-runner and belied his veteran status in the burning sun, finishing 6th (4:30.11), an all-the-more-notable feat, given that he’d earlier run an unyieldingly combative steeplechase (4th – A; 10:17.0), with another veteran, Andy Arbour, giving him excellent support (4th – B; 11:07.4).
It was a terrific day, with wonderful performances from all of our athletes, great organization from the officials, and enthusiastic support from the K&P Barmy Army. Up until the last 3 events we seemed to be opening up an unassailable lead on Nene Valley Harriers for the promotion places, as we looked to be edging in front of Bristol & West for the win, and Nene were headed by Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets for 3rd, but Bristol somehow just did enough to claw their way past us and VPTH fell away completely in the last two throws competitions and got DQ’d in the 4x400m, allowing both Nene and Exeter past them at the death. As a result we go into the last match with only a 3pt cushion, when it could have been 5. League standing: Bristol & West 24pts, K&P 21pts, Nene Valley Harriers 18pts, Reading 12pts, Swansea 11pts, Exeter 10pts, Victoria Park & Tower Hamlets 9pts, Havering Mayesbrook 3pts.
One other event added an unexpected extra sheen to a special day at Kingsmeadow. Our very own David Barrington was recognized, celebrated and honoured by the British Athletics League itself with a speech and presentation. David’s involvement in the BAL started as an athlete in Polytechnic Harriers when the league was first formed in 1969, and has continued through his work as team manager, meeting organizer and BAL official. This will be his last year of involvement and the loud and wholehearted acclamation he received at Kingsmeadow shows how highly he is thought of by everybody connected to the BAL and K&P. I hope that the team will now be inspired to finish off the job and win promotion for his last match in charge, to see him retire in style!
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