10/06/10: A FAIR BIG WEEK, BUT WITH MANY MISSING

A FAIR BIG WEEK, BUT WITH MANY MISSING

There are a lot of calls on athletes’ time – and not all of them from athletics – and in the nature of things there will always be a proportion of any Club’s members who are carrying injuries. However, on the second of the Senior League weekends, the one in which both Men and Women started their National League campaigns, the number of missing bodies from the teams was quite striking. All three teams – and the Women in particular – suffered from shortages, and although from what he was told by the various Team managers the vast majority had a reason for not being around it’s not a good sign for a Club that’s supposed to be a regional leader. Of course, it doesn’t help a club which is gaining a reputation for producing multi-eventers when England Athletics chooses to stage its Championships on a League weekend; though the Scribe is not insensitive to the fact that weekends are limited and it’s difficult to find one that wouldn’t have clashed with something, and if multi-eventers are going to go for international selection they have to have and early-season event as a trial. He just hopes that matters are taken to heart, and everybody who can and could contribute makes an effort to be available for the first weekend in July.

Detailed results of the three meetings are, as ever, on the Results Page.

6th June – British Athletics League, Div. 2, Derby

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD FOR STEVE’S 50th.

There were injury gaps and multi-event absences to weaken the team which went to Moorways on Sunday, and fifth was probably about as good as team manager Mark Harrison could realistically have expected; but it was still a solid performance which was enlivened by a number of PBs and seasonal improvements. Individually there were a couple of highlights; Matt Hudson, perhaps unsurprisingly in view of his recent excellent form, took the Athlete of the Match Award with an outstanding time only three-hundredths of a second off his ‘legal’ Best in the Hurdles, and Steve Linsell became the first Leeds City athlete to turn out in fifty B.A.L. matches in a league career which now spans thirty-one seasons. (And believe it or not, there are longer ones!) the League marked the occasion with a bottle of champers, and Steve marked it by becoming only the ninth Club member to score more than 300 points in the B.A.L. when he added another ten for fourth in the High Jump. Some people might have considered him a bit long in the tooth for a High-jumper in the year his partner Mark Fuszard was born – 1992! Steve wasn’t the only ‘golden oldie’ on display, though; Julien Gittens came within two centimetres of setting and eighth new Over-45 Triple record.

There were in fact a couple of other similar landmarks. Admittedly nowadays, with eight-club divisions, it’s easier to run up high scores than it was in the 1980s, but even so Matt’s Hurdles saw him achieve just short of 200 points in three seasons, while both Tom Mosley and Tom Lindsay reached their century in the same time. Tom M. had a good afternoon’s sprinting, while Tom L. provided cover in the Hurdles and partnered mark in the Pole Vault; he’s now scored League points in every Hurdles and Jump event. Three others who’ve already achieved the mark added to their totals and contributed strongly to the team’s score; Anthony Timms got his Long-jumping right and hit seven metres for the first time this year, besides sprinting and shot-putting with debutant little brother Adam, Umar Hameed limited himself to the 200 but produced a fiery run, and Mike Salter took on the tough 800/400 ‘double’ and scored well in both.

Out in the field Mark Harrison made a Team Manager’s contribution in Discus and Hammer, with David Milnes in support in the latter and looking consistent, while among those with experience from last year James Smith had a win in the B 3000 (they’re alternating it with the 5000 this year), and Joe Townsend, running a good B-string 1500, hit a target of his own – he’s now scored more League points than his Dad!

Debuts and breakthroughs also marked the day. Besides Adam, six other made their first appearance in the B.A.L.; Carl Smith placed well in the 1500 after his quick 5000 of the previous week, Alan Buckley has run faster 3000s in his youth but the time would indicate he’s over his Marathon traumas, but Dale Worton, having put up good recent times, was perhaps a bit overawed by the level of competition. (He’s young enough to get used to it!) In terms of points the biggest impact came from Tim Miller, who covered three events and added a couple of feet to his best Javelin; he was in good company there, as Sam Allan, whose level of performance had seemed to be stagnating around the 55-metre mark, suddenly unleashed one not far short of sixty and could be on his way again. The other two also got PBs; Dan Brownbill’s 400 was his second in a week, even though he was outgunned by older and stronger opponents, but those who may have doubted whether Ali Mauizbin might have done some of the times he’s been attributed with got a sharp shock in the right direction as he lopped 23 seconds off his previous Club performance in the Steeplechase, and clearly looked the part. His partner Gavin Chatterton also came up with a narrow PB – a bit remarkable as he’d only got back late the previous night from a half-term jaunt to the South of France with 41 surfing kids – hardly the preparation for competition!

The fact that the first six teams covered only 58 points, and the number of potential additions to the team that turned out, would seem to suggest that with a bit of commitment a place in this Division at least is assured for next season; but there is one point to note before anybody gets too complacent. The three clubs behind Leeds City were all London-based outfits, and it’s a fact that some London clubs don’t ‘travel’ well; they could be a great deal stronger in the second meeting, at Kingston-on-Thames at the beginning of July. On the other hand Notts. and Derby, neither of whom were far in front, could both have profited from ‘home’ advantage this time and be a bit weaker next time out. The real question is, will the Leeds City lads travel well? Only time will tell, but it would be good to see a strong away effort to consolidate the position.

5th June – U.K. Women’s League, Div.3, Gateshead

DEPLETED START TO THE LADIES’ SEASON

There were just too many problems for Team Manager Veronique Marot to overcome with this first match; her own description of “understanding how Napoleon felt after the battle of Waterloo – battling all day with too few troops (and) defection at the last minute” probably sums it up The Ladies’ section is currently a bit short on numbers, several people were injured, a couple of others couldn’t make long trips from University, and the match coincided with the English Combined Events Championships which understandably took Amy and Katy Marchant out of the team. There was a serious lack of jumpers which would have been worse but for the presence of a certain elderly lady (her words!) and the generosity of a youthful thrower; a couple of people competed in spite of injuries and the like; and some of the middle-distance runners were persuaded/conned/generously put themselves forward (delete as necessary) for the odd extra event. It wasn’t great – but it could have been a great deal worse, and with a bit of effort and a couple of recoveries could be much improved on before the season’s out.

So what were the positives? Performance-wise, there were several good things. Veronique points out that “those who made the effort … battled brilliantly, including new recruits like Robyn Purchase and Adanna Okeahialam, and those like Emily Birchall in the 4×400 and Sarah Peterson in the 400m Hurdles who gave their all in totally new events.” Certainly Adanna threw everything in sight to back up Alice Simpson, who had yet another really consistent day despite being reportedly less than ecstatic about some of her marks (there are scurrilous reports that an late-night party that she didn’t even attend had something t do with it); and in addition to throwing a good Javelin (though again she reckoned she’s got better in her) Robyn also volunteered to fill the Long Jump gap (and might have tripled if she could have trusted her dodgy knee). The only other field-eventer out was the redoubtable Hazel Barker, who filled three places and did as well as a lady of advanced years might have been expected to at short notice, though no doubt she’ll be just as self-critical as her younger team-mates.

On the track the outstanding performance against Club and national ranking standards was Kadena Cox in the 400; she’s clearly coming to terms with the event, and from a comparative novice is now at
58.30 getting into the upper reaches of the national Under-20 list. She also ran a mean 200 (25.71), partnered by Naana Adusei, who went a lot better over the longer sprint than the 100, though she was up against a particularly strong field and is reported (by Veronique) to be working long hours. (Sheryl Punter, who ran the B 100, has missed a bit of training with a ‘creak’ recently.) Startling performance probably came from Sarah Peterson, who didn’t go quite as fast in the Steeplechase as last year – but last year she didn’t volunteer to do 800 and 400 Hurdles as well!! Emily Birchall and Sophie Lovell, originally ‘slated’ for just the 3000, both agreed to do another event – in Emily’s case it turned into two – and still managed to turn in the second-best scoring event of the afternoon in their first choice – only exceeded by the Hammer-throwers. Finally, there was one Club record -to pick up a couple of extra points Madam President herself put herself down for 1500 and 400, and her 81.96 in the latter is (to her telephonic bemusement) now the Club’s Over-50 Ladies’ mark!

In her e-mail report Veronique makes one more point about Napoleon – “he lost the war, we’ve only lost one battle.” She calculated that a full-strength team “would have scored another eighty points – and WON THE MATCH” (her emphasis), and reckons that at Kingston a determined team effort could turn matters round. Of course, it’ll need a determined team effort; are there enough determined ladies out there?

5th June – Northern Senior League, Div. 2E, Jarrow

HOLDING ON WITH DOUBLES AND SURPRISES

With both the Men’s and Women’s A teams being short of strength it wasn’t surprising that the B team struggled a bit at Monkton Stadium; in fact the main reasons why the team didn’t finish last were the appearance of Matt Allison, who couldn’t make the Sunday but could manage Saturday, the appearance of three of the guys who were to go to Derby the following day, and a remarkable captain’s innings from Martin Horbury, who put himself in the maximum permissible six events and picked up 21 points which made all the difference. The Women’s team was sown to a bare eight, but between them left rather less gaps than last time out, and in both sections the result masks some remarkable performances.

There wasn’t a lot of doubt about the performance of the day on the Women’s side; it came right at the start of the track events when Fran Coldwell attempted 400m hurdles with opposition for the first time this season and sliced over four seconds off her previous solo run. As Fran also put in a decent High Jump and won the Long Jump with another five-metre clearance, while her partner Claudia Chrappah made it the only maximum event and got into the Ranking List besides sprinting and Triple-jumping to good effect, the two Under-17s drafted in more than did their share. The other main improvers were Sarah Whitley, who cracked 11 minutes for the first time on a hot day in partnership with Jennie Guard winning the B contest behind her (and then went on to do the 1500), and the two Hammer-throwers Stacey Evenden and Claire Ginn, both of whom put a couple of metres on their season’s bests. In fact, Stacey, Claire and Stacey’s Mum Ros covered all the throws and picked up a bucketful of points; and with Joanne Westerman covering all three sprints, that was the team.

It was a similar story on the male side. All the field events were covered by five individuals, and one of them only did one event; the one-eventer, however, was Julien Gittens, and The Scribe discovered why he’d failed to break his Triple Jump record for the eighth time – he’d already done it, by the now-traditional three centimetres, the day before! Otherwise it was Matt, with two wins (Discus and Javelin) and a second, supported by Karl Evenden and Martin H. in the throws, and Tom Lindsay and Mark Fuszard having a warm-up session before the B.A.L. in the Jumps. Warm-up Session??? Well, Tom warmed up with his first 1.80 clearance of the year, and Mark did so with two PBs – Vault and Javelin – and two B-string wins, so it could be said to have been a vigorous work-out! The other major break-through came from Tom Roberts, who suddenly has to be taken seriously as a 400m Hurdles after running 58.9; his 51.4 400 wasn’t bad either, and Jack Mosley’s supporting run winning the B race was also a season’s best. The Bridgend Basher, Elliot Cole, supplied the only track-event win in the 1500, chopping his season’s time down by five seconds in the process, while to run the 5000 you had to be called Martin! The A runner was Martin Sanders, making a return to team competition after his recent return on the road; his partner was the ever-reliable Martin Farran, adding several more to his tally of points in Club middle-distance events.

5/6th June – England Combined Events Championships, Bedford

KATY’S ECSTACY AND DAN’S AGONY

The two Club members who completed the Championship had contrasting experiences to say the least; for one everything went right, while the other suffered the Multi-eventer’s greatest nightmare. The one who got it all – or just about all – right was Katy Marchant; you can’t do a great deal better than five PBs out of seven, a 300-points or so improvement and a national Silver medal in the Under-20 Heptathlon. Mind you, it had to be earned; in a three-way contest with Basingstoke’s Becky Curtis-Harris and Milton Keynes’ Sophie Wilkins that had a strong resemblance to an Alton Towers white-knuckle ride the medal places were finally sorted out with a margin of thirty-three points!

The contest also illustrated how even among multi-eventers talents vary. Katy got off to a flying start, as the first events were three of her strongest; she equalled her PB in the Hurdles (though the last time she did 14.48 she had a helping wind), did likewise in the High Jump with 1.65 and the added nearly half a metre to her Shot with 10.93. At this point she had a 100-point lead on Becky and nearly 300 on Sophie, whose Shot is a weakness, but both are substantially faster sprinters, and even a flying (for Katy) 26.93 meant that she lost ground. At the end of Day 1 she had a 16-point advantage, which wasn’t a lot for safety;and as sprinting ability has a high correlation with Long-jumping ability it wasn’t a surprise that even with 5.27 – another PB – she lost ground to both and the lead to Becky. It was still tight, and Katy pulled some ground back with a 34.39 javelin – her best this year – but not only did she need to beat Becky by a second or so to win, but with Sophie by far the fastest 800 runner in the field she’d need to watch her back. It wasn’t to be, as she lost to Becky in the tightest of finishes – 2.30.76 to 2.30.78! – but the pair did enough to stay in front of Sophie’s 2.18 run.

It was going to be a tall order for Dan Gardiner to pick up a medal in his first Senior Decathlon, but there was no doubt that he went for it; at the end of the first day he was in third place, and well up to challenge, though again like Katy his first day is usually substantially stronger than his second. He started with 10.88 in the 100, the fastest time of the day; and though he couldn’t hole the lead he consolidated with four splendid marks. A 7.17 Long Jump wasn’t far from his best, and though 12.68 in the Shot was by his high standards a shade disappointing he made up for it with 1.86 in the High Jump and 50.86, very close to his Best, over 400. He started day 2 well; although he lost ground on the field in the Hurdles, where he’s just adjusting to the new height, he ran a PB of 16.37, and regained ground with another PB of 41.42 in the Discus. And then the nightmare – failure at his opening height in the Vault! It’s enough to knock the stuffing out of anybody when that happens; but at least Dan got up, threw a more than handy 50.77 in his other weak event, the javelin, and ran a solid decathlete’s 1500 in 4.51.66 to finish with 6438 in 12th place. Just to put it in perspective, it places him third on the Club list in spite of being an effective Nonathlon; and if he could have managed the four metres or so he’s capable of on a good day he’d have broken Neil Killen’s long-standing Club record. The Scribe hopes it’s some sort of a consolation.

OF FELLS AND FLOWERS AND FLYING TIMES

According to the Westmorland Gazette (don’t ask how The Scribe came to be reading it) the competitors in the Hutton Roof Crags Fell Race were required to take great care not to tread on an extremely rare orchid that grows at some point on the course. There was another item of rare wildlife on view at the race on the 29th – Simon Deakin running on the fells! He made a fair shift of it as well, finishing 7th behind a number of experienced sheep-pursuers in 51.36. Leon Foster, who finished 11th (54.10), reports that the pair were planning to run part of the Dales Way, and the race just happened to be there. Sophie Lovell, who pops up in some interesting places these days, finished 68th (and fourth in the Ladies race) in 62.26.

Also out on the hills was Greg Hull, who finished third (18.20) in the Chevin Fell Race at Otley on June 2nd and took the Veterans’ prize by a margin; mind you, he didn’t have as far to travel as most of the others to get there, living only just over the hill in Guiseley. The following night James Walsh took to the roads, but as the roads in question constituted the Full Bronte 5 at Haworth he might just as well have been on the fells. The inclines didn’t seem to trouble him, though; he won by something over a minute and a half in 25.43.

The younger middle-distance Ranking Lists took a bit of a battering at the latest Trafford Grand Prix meeting on June 1st, notably the Under-17 and Under-20 1500 metres, with four Club members breaking four minutes for the first time in one of the B.M.C. paced circuses. Three of them – Geoff Belcher, Elliot Todd and Mike Wood – were close together at the back of a big and strong field, and seemed to drag each other through to very close times; Geoff headed the group with 3.59.09, while Elliot just – and only just – got the better of Mike by seven hundredths in 3.59.71. Anyone suggesting this trio had gone ‘off the boil’ a bit since last year was duly woken up. However, five seconds in front Gordon Benson was tearing his PB to shreds; he chopped a massive nine seconds off his previous, ran 3.54.93 to put himself on to the Senior List ( the youngest person on it) – and when the only names ahead of him on the Under-17 list are Mark Sesay and Sean Cahill, it can be fairly said that he’s arrived!

They weren’t the only ones going home happy. In the Under-15 800 (they separate them now) Luke Cooper hauled himself to 5th on the Club list with 2.05.12, a 1½-second improvement on previous marks, while over 400 Dan Brownbill sent down a barrier of his own by breaking 52 seconds for the first time (51.63), with Jack Mosley putting up a decent 52.57 and brother Tom running 22.55 for 200.

Over 800 Rob Torch brought down his season’s best to 2.03.08 ( like Dan mere fractions off a ranking time), while Alex Hart plugged away at his 1500 time and was rewarded by a much-improved 4.27.22.