id965-BAL Nat 2 M4 Kingston August 22nd 2009 Report

Written by PW   

Here's Peter Waddington's report on the last BAL match of 2009.

Full results - www.bal.org.uk

British Athletics League Division 2, Match 4 Kingston, August 22nd 2009 Report by PW

This was a bittersweet day for Kingston & Poly. The team fought courageously every step of the way to try and stave off relegation, but despite some wonderful performances, showing that we really belong at this level, and a creditable 5th place in the match, we ended the season in 7th place and will be back down in Division 3 next year.

This year we had the unusual circumstance of every Division 2 club going into the last match still involved in either relegation or promotion battles (except for the already doomed Swansea), so we faced full strength highly motivated teams, heavily peppered with internationals, and found ourselves battling for survival in the toughest match of the season. Right from the start it was obvious that Leeds were even stronger and more focused than in their triumphant home match and it seemed inevitable that they would leapfrog us. Harrow however wilted under the pressure, and the possibility of our leapfrogging them was tantalisingly close until the final events unfolded. We beat them on the day (as we did in 3 of the 4 fixtures), but needed TVH to finish ahead of them as well, which led to the surreal experience of hearing K&P voices raised in rousing cries of ‘come on the Valley!” as the match reached its climax. Sadly, the TVH athletes couldn’t quite match our enthusiasm, finishing 9½ points behind our rivals. As a result we finished equal with Harrow on 16 League points, but a crucial 35½ match points short of their total… the equivalent in football terms of being relegated on goal-difference! K&P have been especially unlucky to find the competition so evenly matched this season. In previous years 16 League points would have guaranteed safety and been deemed a respectable mid-table total.

On a bright day, freshened by a capricious swirling breeze, the K&P Field eventers recaptured their pre-eminent position as the team’s driving force, but the exceptional quality of the competition still made points very hard to come by. Once again the heavy throwers proved their worth. Nick Owen just got the better of Kyle Stevens in the Shot Putt, winning the A with14.91m to Kyle’s B-winning 14.72m. Nick also took 4th (A) in the Discus (42.09m SB), and Andy Wheble picked up 2nd in the B with a useful 40.12m. In the Hammer, Men’s co-captain, Gareth Cook finished 4th – A (49.92m), but must have been given a fright by Kyle, who was only 23cm behind him (2nd – B; 49.69m)!

The Javelin, stripped of Felix Hatton and the honeymooning (poor excuse for absenteeism if you ask me…) Mike Clarke, was a less happy hunting ground for K&P. To make matters really difficult, both of our throwers were involved in jumping competitions at the same time. Chris Dack (43.54m – 5th – B) had lots of power, but couldn’t quite find the right trajectory and probably wasn’t helped by his continued involvement in the High Jump, where he came a creditable 3rd in a close-fought B competition (1.75m), backing up Matt Field’s 5th= in the A (1.80m). Stand-in Javelin thrower, Humphrey Waddington, unexpectedly found himself 7th in the A (44.97 SB), having briefly left a Triple Jump contest that was coming to the boil, to launch a single throw.

Co-captain Humphrey gave everything he had for the cause, and actually surprised himself with his performances, given his dodgy knees and lack of practice, which is just as well because both of the horizontal jumps were very high on quality. 5 competitors in the A Long Jump went over 7m, with Humphrey hitting 7.02m for 4th. Chris Hall backed up ably (3rd – B - 6.47), as Chris also did in the Triple Jump, where his fighting 13.22m pb won the B string and came straight after a fine 2nd in the B 110H (16.88), which represented another pb performance. Humphrey finished 2nd in the A TJ (14.45m) - a fascinating shoot-out between 4 competitors hitting jumps of 14m-plus. The Pole Vault was even more stacked with talent, with 8 vaulters going over 4m, leaving Bilen Ahmet (3.60m – 7th A) and Gordon Lester (3.20m – 5th B) a touch bemused after experiencing some gentler competitions earlier in the season. Both are very good competitors and have scored well overall this year. Bilen also bakes a pretty mean cake!(almost as good as Mary Waddington & Sue Shilling. Ed).

Once again the best Track yield came from the hurdles. Danny Eckersley looked odds-on for a flying pb in the 400H A, until he hit the last barrier and lost his rhythm, falling at the line, but still finishing 3rd in a creditable 55.39. Tom Parry’s break away didn’t do him any harm and he came a good 2nd in the B (58.53). In the 110H, Matt Field ran a brave 15.29 (4th – A) despite suffering a hamstring strain. His endeavour in adversity typified the spirit of the team, as did Chris Hall’s hard work throughout the day! Chris moved on from the hurdles (and TJ) to the 200m B, where he was just out-dipped, finishing 5th (22.59). It was good to see Justin Green back from his trip to Africa, and his 4th place (22.27) in the A race (won by Christian Malcolm, no less!) was a very strong performance, as was his earlier 100m A (5th – 11.09), also won by Malcolm. Andre Nembhard ran powerfully in the B for an encouraging 3rd (11.09). Justin, Andre, and Chris later teamed up with Humphrey to run the fastest K&P 4x100m of the season (42.72 – 4th), with some much-improved baton-handling.

The flat 400m has proved a bit of a struggle in Division 2, but Adam Bellis will be pleased that his times are getting faster (50.90) and that Swansea provided him with a scalp to pick off! He finished 7th – A, Swansea also obligingly gifted Jason-Louis Bernard a victim in the B race, where he too finished 7th (although probably a bit less pleased with his time). Adam and Jason then joined Danny Eckersley and the ever-quickening Victor Nwagbara, to run our best 4x400m clocking of the season (3:23.50 – 5th). At 800m Michael Hobson found the early pace a touch strong in the A, but hung on gamely for 6th (1:57.72), before once again doing the hard man’s double with 6th in the A 1500m (4:07.72). Craig Price backed-up well in the B 800m (4th – 1:58.68 SB) and looks on course for a return to his pomp in 2010, and Andy Robinson stayed well in contention in the B 1500m (4:15.63) until the end, where the younger legs of his opponents carried them clear. The 5K proved tough for Will Clark (8th – A – 15:51.95) and Jud Hough (6th – B – 15:53.77), but once again it was great to see those K&P vests going sub-16 minutes. Mike Maranzano and James Robertson (one just back from holiday in the early hours of the morning and the other nobly delaying his travel plans to compete for the team) were also stretched in the 3K Steeplechase, but had a merry old time racing each other, with Mike just coming out on top (10:23.0 to 10:28.3).

Overall, it was a totally absorbing day and I am filled with admiration for the team and its fighting qualities. I must also put in a word for David Barrington, the Team Manager, who has run his injury-ravaged resources with great skill and kept everybody upbeat and motivated! It is ironic that even though we have been relegated, this season has demonstrated our quality. Harrow may have survived, but we beat them 3 times out of 4 and only our disastrous luck at Cardiff dragged us down. I have no doubt that we can and will bounce straight back up next season and this time it will herald a much longer stay!

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