Written by Chris Hall
British Athletics League Division 2, Match 2
Kingston, 6thJuly 2019
The second match of Kingston and Poly’s British Athletics League season was a home one, at a sunny and warm Kingsmeadow, which has proven to be a lucky charm in recent years. Following the Chelmsford match in which we were pipped to 3rdat the last by the smallest of margins, the team were looking to come back with a bang, and where better than at the familiar surroundings of the Weir Archer Centre?
It appears to be customary now for the BAL to take place on the sunniest of days, and this was no exception. What is increasingly becoming an unwelcome one, however, is a horrible headwind on the home straight, which is something that our sprinters had to contend with today. Nevertheless, sunglasses, caps and shorts were in abundance on a wonderfully bright day.
This being another joint match with the UK Women’s League, but this time without an ‘outside’ throwing circle, we once again had a different timetable. The Hammer started us off at a bleary-eyed time of 10am, and in it we had our first choice pairing of Gareth Cook and Kyle Stevens. Hammer is an event we have come to expect big points in, and once again our boys delivered, pipped only by common rivals – the formidable Lasis brothers of Crawley - in both strings. 2ndA for Gareth with 51.88m and Kyle’s 46.24m easily grabbing 2ndB brought us an excellent 26 points to start the day off.
It was a whole hour and a half before the next event in the Men’s match, and this was Pole Vault, with the 400 Hurdles fast approaching on the track. In the Pole Vault we welcomed back an old friend, as Mark Roberts took on a BAL meet for the first time in 5 years, with Bilen Ahmet eventually taking the A string number as he arrived a whole 10 minutes before the event! Both of our athletes vaulted well as Bilen equalled his season’s best with 3.80m to take 3rd= A, and Mark’s contribution was very welcome after Humphrey Waddington gamely filled in at Chelmsford for a couple of points, clearing 3.40m for an excellent 2ndB. On track, we had Chris Hall and Humphrey lining up to take on the 400H. Chelmsford’s A string race was a brutal one and we were pleased to see a weaker field for this meet, but Chris found a much better rhythm and ran a pleasantly surprising PB of 58.46 to take 5thA. Humphrey, meanwhile, took the usual approach of running smoothly for 200m and then evaluating the situation, and he was happy to see that he could cruise the second half of the race and take a great 4thB placing with a leisurely time of 70.07 that was even relaxing to look at!
At 12.30 we had a whole host of events as all of the Discus, Long Jump and 800m started at the same time. In the Discus we welcomed back Chris Dack, who brought along his very young son and future BAL Shot Putter Theodore along to watch – many congratulations again to you and Claire, Chris! He partnered Nick Owen in the circle. Discus this year is shaping up to be a tight contest, but Chris held in there and his throw of 42.38m got 3rdA. Nick, meanwhile, threw a season’s best of 38.90m that looked to be winning the B string until the pesky Matt Lasis nabbed it away at the last. Nevertheless, 2ndB kept the points ticking over. In the Long Jump we had Chris Hall and Humphrey Waddington again in action – only the 6thtime together in 2 matches! Humphrey gradually found his groove as he edged higher and higher from an initial 6.30-ish jump, and pulled out an excellent 6.60m to grab 4thA and narrowly miss out on 3rd. Chris, meanwhile, struggled a bit again but crucially got through to the cut of 8 final athletes, and as the only B string through we were guaranteed the B win. 6.29m is again far off his best but all we need is good enough!
As mentioned, the 800m was next on track, with the 100m following soon after. In the 2 lap race we had long-term HCA Hugo Fleming of Walton taking the A numbers, which allowed James Coxon to take on the B race on this occasion. Hugo admitted to me after the race that he hasn’t been feeling too good lately and despite being towards the back of the pack going into the last 300m, a strong finish got him past 2 rivals to finish 5thA in a time of 1:56.20 that is up there with our best in the club this season. James, meanwhile, had another race where he rushed straight to the front, which is often something that seasoned 800m runners latch on to, to spoil the party in the final metres. This time, though, he held on admirably and only the Glasgow athlete managed to pass him – a comfortable 2ndB and time of 1:56.88 brought more good points. In the 100m we had Abdou Njie lining up, with Elijah Lyle-Vidal back after a busy early-season period with work. A lovely headwind welcomed our athletes alongside the usual speed demons, but Abdou fought well to pip rivals to 6thA in 11.22 – the wind was given as a +0.9 but no-one is really sure where that came from. A more accurate reading of -1.9 was recorded for Elijah’s race, alongside hand-timing for a double blow. Elijah was given 11.3 and took 6thB in a tight contest. A decent day for our boys!
On track next we had the 3000m Steeplechase, with the sprint hurdles also being prepared for the 110H afterwards. In the Steeple we had Scott Evans, able to make his favoured event this time, which allowed Michael Huntley to become B string. The Thursday before the match saw some intense Steeplechasing practice in training and it was no surprise to see both Scott and Michael towards the front of their respective strings. Though Scott tired a bit and dropped off the leader, he stuck on in there to easily take 2ndA in a hand-time of 9:38.4. Michael, meanwhile, officially ran his best Steeple race ever as he recorded a PB of 10:27.5 for a brilliant 2ndB. That made it two 30 year olds with PBs so do not despair, you youngsters! In the 110H we had Alex Parkinson lining up in the A race again, with Chris Hall in the B. In Alex we have found our successor to former BAL star Matt Field, and his superb consistency was seen again as he ran 15.62 into yet another greatly unhelpful wind to take 4thA. Chris won the B race last time out but found himself against former multi-eventer Richard Reeks on this occasion. Some crisper hurdling may have yielded a closer result but Chris’ 16.59 into a -1.2 easily took 2ndB.
Next on the field were Shot Put and High Jump. In the throwing circle we had Chris Dack returning to compete alongside Nick Owen. Fairly often in the field, one man has to ‘take one for the team’ and actually score fewer points by throwing/jumping further - as we have seen in the Long Jump - and it happened this time as Nick’s 13.99m got him 4thA for 10 points. Chris, meanwhile, threw a season’s best of 13.92m to take the B string win and 12 more points. Similar to Hammer, Shot is an event we always score highly in and Nick and Chris maximised the realistic points on offer. In the High Jump we were hoping that HCA from Sutton & District, Sid Walters would make his debut. Unfortunately he had to pull out so Humphrey Waddington returned to action. His partner was also a debutant - Under 17 Freddie Crosby – who has come on leaps and bounds to be the club’s best High Jumper this year. Both Humphrey and Freddie jumped 1.75m – an equal PB for Freddie and a big season’s best for Humphrey. It then came down to countback and Humphrey’s fewer failures meant he took the A placing of 7thin a contest that was unusually more competitive than at Chelmsford, while Freddie’s jump got him 4thB for an excellent first outing.
Our next two events were the 400m on track, with the Javelin taking place on the field. In the one-lap race we once again had our young pairing of Will Stapleton and Max Perez-Diaz, who have built up a healthy rivalry in recent months that has seen them run almost identical times on more than one occasion. Will took the number 7 as he braved the A race, and absolutely blasted off at the start before unfortunately tiring in the last 100m, finishing 7thA in a time of 50.61. Max has been more than happy to take on the B string and he enjoyed this immensely as he ran a great race to come 2ndB, a BAL best, with 50.57. In the Javelin, we also had our first-choice duo with Will Trimble and Humphrey Waddington - the latter jumping both figuratively and literally between this and Triple - taking it on. The best performance of the day came from these two as Will threw a massive season’s best of 60.29 to bring a superb A string victory, while Humphrey also recorded a best mark of the season with 45.62 to place 2ndB.
With the end of the day drawing nearer, we had the 1500m up next, while at the far end of the track the Triple Jump was underway. On track we had the reliable Jon Darby and Alex Thomas lining up at the 300m mark. The winning time of the 1500m can vary wildly, it being such a tactical event, and this one was on the slow side, but it suited us as Jon ran his best time for 3 years to finish 6thA in a time of 4:09.36, while Alex had his own two-man race with the Chelmsford athlete, unfortunately being pipped but his time was up there with his best of the season as he placed 6thB in 4:21.72. Over at the Triple Jump, we had Humphrey Waddington and Chris Hall donning the Kingston numbers. Chris recorded a season’s best this time round, though he struggled with tired legs, and took a useful 3rdB with 12.43. Humphrey, meanwhile, produced a stellar display of jumping to record a surprising but very welcome and brilliant A string win with a jump of 13.54m.
Finishing up the individual events on track were the 200m followed closely by the 5000m – a contrast if ever there was one! In the sprints we again had Abdou Njie and Elijah Lyle-Vidal, swapping the A and B numbers from the 100m based on their times this season. This editor knows from experience that Kingsmeadow can produce some of the worst winds for 200m runners ever known in the UK athletics world, and today was unfortunately up there. A –2.9 wind greeted Elijah as he ran 23.20 for 8thA – 4 points nevertheless! – while Abdou had a slightly nicer -2.2 but fought well to place a very good 4thB in 22.72. In the 5k, we had James Coxon lining up after his 3 and a half hour break from the 800m, and taking the B numbers we were very pleased to welcome back James Robertson, who has been plagued with injury for 3 years and was a relatively late recruit to this match. This was actually James C’s first 5k according to Power of 10 but you wouldn’t have realised as he stuck in with the leading pack, of which he was one of three, and he stayed there all the way to record a superb 2ndA placing with a time of 15:06.03. James R also surpassed expectations by running a very patient race and reeling in the Chelmsford athlete over the course of 8 or so laps before taking 5thand remaining there for a great position in the B race. His time was 16:58.66 which was a very good one considering the painful time he’s had since 2016!
Onto the relays now and in the 4x100m we had a scoring debutant in Thomas White, who has been in fantastic form and did the non-scoring 100m race earlier in the day – running a very respectable 11.71 into a -2.6 wind. He was joined by Elijah Lyle-Vidal, Alex Parkinson and Abdou Njie for a very swift quartet. The changeovers looked a bit ropey but our four actually ran the quickest time for 3 years as they placed a superb 4thin 43.26. Abdou then joined the 4x400 team alongside Max Perez-Diaz, Hugo Fleming, and Jon Darby after Will Stapleton was overruled by management after suffering from a back issue. Save yourself for Glasgow, Will! The time and position wasn’t quite as good as at Chelmsford, but 3:27.13 was still a decent run and took 6thfor another handful of points.
In the early stages of the day, we were often third in the score updates, with Crawley and Glasgow ahead. As the day progressed, though, we first closed the gap and then caught up with both to eventually be joint first with Crawley around the time of the Triple Jump. The scores were read out before the 4x400m where it transpired that…we’d won! What was a 20 point lead became 28 after the 4x400 race for an even more dominant result, and an absolutely fantastic victory – proving that our triumphs in 2017 were no fluke.
This means we are 2ndin the table, with Glasgow one league point ahead of us and Crawley level of league points but behind on match points. Havering a further league point behind. This also means that we will be promoted if we beat both Crawley and Havering in Scotland! It is expected that Glasgow will dominate in their home match, but we have a superb chance to again gain promotion to Division One and become one of the best 16 teams in the United Kingdom!
A huge, huge thank you to everyone who competed – there were PBs, A string wins, B string wins, Season’s Bests and fantastic positions galore on a fun and fruitful day. As this was a home match we had a huge raft of K&P members helping on the day, and I won’t be able to name everybody, but please know that it was a superbly organised match and a memorable day both in terms of result and in how smoothly-run it was. Special mentions do go to Pat Logan for being the organiser of such a great meeting, Mark Hall for once again helping me run the team on the day and for working hard to sort out the Glasgow trip both before and during this Kingston meet, and to David Barrington for defying his illness and coming to both support and help organise the day.
So, on we go to Glasgow. Let’s go K&P!
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