Written by DH
TM David Hillyer's view on a Winning Start.
“A New Beginning” – Barack Obama, 18/4/2009 and David Hillyer & Michele Wicks 26/4/2009
A group of 10 bleary-eyed teenagers assembled at Kingsmeadow on Sunday morning before making their way to Reading to be joined by 11 of their team-mates for K&P’s first appearance in the National Junior Athletics League. We were all uncertain what to expect in this competition primarily for U20’s which fellow Team Manager, Michele Wicks and I had suggested we enter to further nurture the talents of our athletes who had formed a substantial part of last season’s successful NYAL squad. To help bolster the squad,we were able to call on the services of three 2nd claim athletes (2 from Dorking & Mole Valley and 1 from Sutton).
Things started reasonably well and when the first update on positions was given K&P were in 4th place out of the 8 teams in our division. Good performances started to be more frequent and around the halfway stage we had moved up to 3rd. The momentum continued as the afternoon progressed and with about 10 events left the team had moved up to 2nd behind host club Reading AC. We all started to think the unthinkable especially as some of the final results produced 1st places in both the A & B strings and, after the final relay the team waited for the final result. The cheer that went up when it was announced that we had finished 1st, beating Reading by 20 points might well have been heard at Kingsmeadow.
All the results will be found elsewhere on this website and, although there were several individual winners, this was in essence an outstanding Team performance. These days teenagers often get a “bad press” but the 21 girls and boys who turned out for us where a credit to the club and themselves. They were constantly supporting their team-mates in all events, lifted others spirits when things hadn’t gone quite to plan, and showed respect to all the officials. There were so many highlights it is difficult to list them all, with several PBs at an early stage of the season, but these are some of them.
Performance of the day:
Leanne Bettis (2nd claim from DMV) winning the Discus with a PB and English Schools qualifying mark and less than 30 minutes later setting another PB to win the Triple Jump.
This was closely followed by Maddy Hardwick’s first lap of the 3000 metres when she was hot on the heels of the leaders in the male race. Eventually they shook her off, but she still easily won her event.
Hilarious moment of the day:
Nearly half the team “advising” Emily McIlwain on what to do when her run-up in the Long Jump was going drastically wrong. At least some of the advice worked (fortunately not the comment that she would be better high jumping into the pit) as she managed to get a valid jump of 2.18 at her 3rd attempt.
This was a near thing as some of the comments made when Gordon Lester produced his bright yellow spikes brought broad grins to many faces. He wasn’t even supposed to be competing as he is continuing a recovery from injury, but it was decided there was no way he could bring those shoes (plus all his other kit) all that way and not use them. So he was allowed to run a leg for the 4x100 relay team which was to set the inaugural U20 club record.
Athletes of the day:
All of them:
Girls: Rahannah Gillette-Vernon, Maddy Hardwick, Harriet Lester, Gaby Miles, Emily McIlwain, Katja Schlerf together with 2nd claimers Leanne Bettis and Amelia Maugouber.
Boys: Dida Alsaffar, Elliott Baveystock, Patrick Hillyer, Aljosa Isakovic, Gordon Lester, Asher Nelson, Ezra Nelson, Tom Parry, Tom Ratcliff, Richard Smeaton, Will Trimble, Adam Wicks and 2nd claimer Tariq Fadare.
My thanks go to all the team, but also to fellow Team Manager, Michele Wicks who skilfully cajoled several of the squad to compete in unfamiliar events to get a few extra points. This was instrumental in securing our victory. Also to be thanked are Clare Nelson, Camilla Thrush, David Barrington,Ian McIlwain and Maurice Joyce who helped to officiate. This competition awards up to 35 points for a full team of officials, so this also contributed to the win as we supplied a full quota. Camilla also kindly drove the minibus. In addition I would like to thank all the family and friends who turned up to support the team.
Our next match in this competition is at Milton Keynes on 24th May. It is likely that the other clubs will be better represented, so it is important that as many as possible of the squad are available. We will hopefully be strengthened by athletes who were unable to compete this time, either because of appearances in the London mini-marathon, other sporting commitments or recovering from injury. Michele and I will soon be checking on availability as we hope to keep the momentum going.
The result is highly encouraging and hopefully not a “flash in the pan”. We sent out a very young team (with several U17s) compared to most of the others and the future for the club looks bright. All that is left for me to say is very well done!
P.S. A pair of girl’s jogging bottoms and a top were left behind at Reading in the area where our team was sitting. If they belong to one of our team could the owner please contact me?
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