Written by PJAW
The BAL 2013 denouement at Bristol by our Special Correspondent,Peter Waddington.
Full amended results - www.bal.org.uk
British Athletics League Division 3, Match 4
Bristol, August 3rd 2013
K&P’s Men have been promoted to Division 2 thanks to a wonderful team effort, full of fight and a dogged refusal to throw in the towel!
David Barrington’s team had been ravaged by injury and the siren calls of weddings, work and holidays. This resulted in a third of the 22 athletes on display being pressed into action, despite them either carrying injuries or coming back from surgery after long lay-offs and minimal training. Some athletes were asked to cover unfamiliar events and we also fielded 2 debutants in the High Jump. Promotion had seemed almost a given in July, but suddenly our 3-point cushion over Nene Valley Harriers was looking surprisingly vulnerable. The stakes were high and David was forced to gamble.
This was the first time we’d visited Bristol & West’s compact Kip Keino track and we were greeted by warm sunshine and a blustery wind, helping the sprinters in the finishing straight. Our hosts started things a little late, with Hammer, Pole Vault and Long Jump the first events up.
Our 1st choice Hammer pairing got us off to an excellent start and went close to their season’s bests with Gareth Cook (50.10m – 3rd A) and Andy Wheble (43.73m – 1st B) delivering a confidence-building points return. In contrast, our Pole Vault pairing certainly wasn’t 1st choice. Bilen Ahmet has been a regular, but with Club record-holder, Gordon Lester, injured and at least 3 other good vaulters unavailable, we were very lucky that hurdler, Tom Parry, agreed to fill the gap despite not having really trained since his knee surgery of last year and not having vaulted since 2009! Tom did incredibly well to clear 2.28m and finish 6th B, and Bilen hit his best form of the season (3.88m – 3rd A) to ensure we kept our challenge on course. The Long Jump looked even more of a gamble, as absences meant we were forced to risk Chris Hall, who’d pulled his hamstring jumping in the previous match, and Humphrey Waddington, who was another making his return after surgery, with minimal training after 15 months out. Both were unsure of what they could expect and unlucky to be forced to jump into a headwind which exposed their lack of background strength and fitness, but they were far from disgraced with Chris hitting 6.35m (4th A) and Humphrey 6.27m (2nd B). Almost as important, they emerged unscathed.
High Jump saw 2 BAL debutants pressed into service in the shape of U17 Gabriel Finch and his coach, James Wild, the latter proving he really could walk the walk as well as talking the coaching talk. They performed admirably; Gabriel getting to within 2cm of his pb (1.68m - 5th B) and James clearing 1.83m (6th A) and most importantly they put their Nene Valley rivals behind them. At the same time there was some drama developing around the Discus, when Andy Wheble was outraged to find his implement ruled illegal and the ultra-reliable Chris Dack only arrived after warm-up was well underway, having got lost in Bristol. Both were understandably flustered and couldn’t quite find their best form as a result, but still achieved a very acceptable points return. Both finished 3rd - Andy 40.01m (A) and Chris 32.81 (B). Despite their positive result, David Barrington took the rest of the match to recover from his palpitations!
At last it was time for the Track events to get going, with the 400H first up. Once again we fielded the walking wounded, with Toby Harris, awaiting surgery on a stomach muscle repair, and Tom Parry testing out the quality of his surgeon’s work on his knee refurbishments. Both produced really gutsy runs, with Toby finishing 5th A (57.27s) despite competing in pain and Tom looking exhausted on the straight, but fighting all the way through the line for 3rd B (58.22 – the exact same time as the runner in 4th!). Very similar courageous qualities were exhibited in the 800m, where Jon Darby strained a hamstring, but hung on for 5th A (1:57.33) and Danny Eckersley extended his season to help the team despite a leg problem, moving up to 800m from 400H and finishing 5th B (2:01.08). The sprints have also been hotly contested this season and our squad has risen to the challenge. In a classy 100m A-string, Jordan Smith-Bent did really well to post 10.75s (the 3rd time he’s hit that PB mark this season) for 2nd, but Andre Nembhard, nursing a leg strain, found the B race more of a struggle, finishing 5th after staying near the leader for most of the race.
Back in the Field, our horizontal jumps combo – Chris Hall and Humphrey Waddington – started the Triple Jump, once again into the wind. Both achieved good first round marks in a field lacking depth of quality, enabling Chris to save his hamstring for the 110H, safe in the knowledge that he’d already won the B with 12.54m. Humphrey lay 2nd A, but acutely aware that we needed every point, he decided to keep going, hoping to find form through the rounds. With his penultimate attempt he took the lead, only to see Exeter’s Josh Tunstall snatch it back again with a big 13.47m SB on his last jump. It looked all over and a few drops of rain started to fall, but Humphrey hammered in for the final jump of the competition and launched himself to 13.76m. That was our only A-win on the day and a much-needed double for maximum points scored in the event. Humphrey’s roars of triumph echoed around the stadium as the heavens opened and everyone ran for cover.
Whilst the Triple Jump drama unfolded, the Track had continued with the 3K Steeplechase, where James Robertson bravely recovered from a nasty fall to fight on and finish in 6th A (10:40.54). Andy Arbour (who’d left his family holiday in Northumbria to travel down and answer a Mayday call) also posted good chasing points (4th B – 11:12.15) despite his tiring journey. Next up was the 110H, where Javelin specialist William Trimble was pressed into service alongside Chris Hall. Will ran really well in the B race to finish 6th (17.59s) and Chris finished in the same placing for the A-string. His time of 16.42s was his best electronic mark, but sadly very marginally windy at +2.1. His achievement for the team on the day must be celebrated, given that his hamstring had severely restricted his training over the last month and he had to nurse it through three especially taxing events and the sprint relay.
The 400m has been a good race for us this season and our classy HCAs, Tim Kuria and Joe Gaynor, kept that going. Once again, Tim ran really strongly in a high quality field, but this time couldn’t quite overtake B&W’s Omar Simpson, finishing 2nd A (48.59s). Joe was a little down on his form of last match, but hung in there to finish 4th B (51.45s). As the rain started to fall with greater and greater intensity, for a time the Field athletes were forced to head for cover, but the men of the Track kept going. The 1500m saw stalwart Jamie McCullagh surprisingly make only his first BAL appearance of the season. Sadly, Jon Darby’s hamstring kept him out of the race, but Andy Arbour just had time to bowl around for a B point before rushing to the station to catch the last train back to Newcastle. His huge effort was much appreciated by all the team. Meanwhile Jamie, in the A, ran a season’s best 4:09.64 (7th) and it was good to see him back in the side for David Barrington’s last match as TM. Following the middle distance boys, Jordan Smith-Bent and Justin Green made light of the wet weather front in the 200m, where Jordan finished 3rd A (22.76s) and Justin produced another combative display for 2nd B (23.24s) to boost our total with an excellent points return.
Gareth Cook looked to have faced some of the worst of the rain in his sodden Shot Putt trials, but still managed 3rd B although his 10.79m distance was probably much less than he’d have expected in the dry. Without the legendary Nick Owen, his A-string was Chris Dack, who was trying to compete in the Javelin at the same time AND was nursing an injured elbow. In the Javelin, Chris slipped and fouled his first throw in the treacherous conditions and sadly hurt his elbow once again. In consequence, he could only throw well within himself to save the arm, finishing 7th B, but he more than made up for his frustrating day with a PB in the Shot, posting 13.28m for 3rd A and we hope that he recovers soon and can start building on his excellent season and put some more big throws in next year. Back in the Javelin, Will Trimble was another who didn’t seem to enjoy the dreadful conditions, which saw at least one competitor suffer a nasty fall, but he did hang in there to hit 44.27m for 4th A.
Talking of nasty falls, James Robertson was pressed into action again over the 3K, sporting some painful-looking tartan burns from his earlier steeplechase mishap. In a fast field he showed great heart to pick off one in the B, finishing in a season’s best of 9:46.61. Gordon Pearce also worked his socks off to stay on the pace, but was forced to drop back from the leaders near the end. Despite the conditions, he also ran a season’s best, finishing: 6th A (8:54.57).
There is some doubt over the 4x100m relay result, where the Swansea team was recorded as coming last, when they’d clearly won it. For K&P, the squad of: Justin Green, Jordan Smith-Bent, Chris Hall, and Andre Nembhard seemed to run a safe, but decent race and were probably 3rd(confirmed with 43.99-Ed), but this may change as the result is to be reviewed. The 4x400m squad was a bit patched up and drawn from those left standing, but Joe Gaynor, Jamie McCullagh, Danny Eckersley, and Tim Kuria gave it all they had to finish a creditable 5th.
On the day, Bristol & West won, with Nene Valley 2nd. We were told that we came 3rd, but I think that after corrections are made, Swansea probably pipped us, with K&P 4th(confirmed-Ed). Either way, we go up! This was a great result for the team. We were really up against it on the day, so many thanks and congratulations to everybody who competed with such heart and to all those who put us within reach in the earlier matches. Thanks also to our travelling officials, Brenda Ford and Greg Moon and to our Barmy Army of supporters who kept everybody at it, and thanks and congratulations most of all to David Barrington, who now steps down after so many years of wonderful Team Management. He has driven the team to success, both metaphorically and literally! He will be sorely missed and is irreplaceable, but we must do everything we can to build on the terrific platform he has worked so hard to provide for the team’s future success.
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