British League Match 1 – Crawley

TVH Men finish comfortably second, only 11 points behind winners, Harrow.

Paul Oppe reports: 

Having lost our place in Division 1 last season Team Manager, Paul Oppe, was determined to set the scene for the promotion drive from day 1. The final result saw us finish comfortably second on the day and only 11 points behind winners, Harrow.

However, this does not give a true reflection of the day as there were a number of outstanding performances along with some disappointing results. After 2 events the Valley were close to last position, albeit with very small points differences throughout, before rallying and putting in some great performances to rip through the field and finish with a flourish to win the final event, the 4x400m. There were A string wins for Luke-Lennon Ford, Antonio Silva, Greg Conlon, Panos Bekiardis and the 4x400m team and Myles Edwards, Mo Aaden and Stephen Edwards were winners in the B string events.

The TVH Clubman Man of the Match award was won by Luke Lennon-Ford for his fine 48.05 winning time in the 400m and his great final leg on the 4 x400 relay. It is good to see Luke running injury free and we look forward to super-fast times later in the season.

The TVH Field Man of the Match award was won by Greg Conlon for his 4.40m in winning the Pole Vault, which is all the more remarkable as he is now in the over 40s Masters’ age group but clearly is like a good wine – maturing well with age!

The TVH TrackMan of the Match award was won by Antonio Silva in recognition of his outstanding 3000m win in 8:18.75, where he outsprinting club mate Mo Aaden by 0.11 seconds in a thrilling race.

The sprints are normally strong events for us but this season the standard is higher than last year’s Division 1 matches. However, Leroy Cain produced a new lifetime best of 10.64 to finish just 0.07 behind the winner, despite having to cope with a 1.7m/s headwind. Leroy looks set to make another breakthrough over the coming months. New signing Mark Dyble fought hard to hold 5th place in 11.35 and we hope to see him return to sub 11 second clockings again soon.

In the 200m Nigel Thomas and James Olasunkunmi both clocked season best performances of 22.56 and 22.48 for 7th in the A string and 4th B string respectively into headwinds and both can expect to run much faster soon.

It was good to see Luke Lennon-Ford running strongly in the 400m to take victory by 4 metres in his first domestic race of the season. His 48.05 clocking was a good opening mark in difficult conditions; again we expect to see him figure in national events this summer and wish him continued success following extended periods of injury.

Andrew Adjubi is a new signing who made his debut for the Valley and his battling 50.97 in the 400m B race earned him 5th place, was only 0.03 seconds behind his season’s best and was less than 0.5 seconds away from his lifetime best.

Paskar Omar is another new signing and who comes with an impressive range of performance from 1:46.37 800m through to 48:58 for 10 miles. Recently he has concentrated more on distance races but he ran strongly in a slow-run 800m race to finish 4th in the 800m in 1:57.98 before finishing fast to snatch 3rd in the 1500m in 4:02.97 just a couple of strides behind the winner. With his ability to compete over anything from 800m to 5000m he is a valuable new addition to the Valley’s ranks.

In his first race of the season Kieron Sexton found the change of pace in the B 800m race difficult to cope with but he fought hard and was rewarded with a time just outside 2 minutes for 5th place.

Myles Edwards was also having his first outdoor race of the season in the 1500m B race and the slow pace in windy conditions were not suited to his current sharpness. He finished just outside Paskar Omar’s time with 4:03.13 and battled all the way in typical fashion to win the B race. However, with some speed work and a few more races we will see Myles challenging his personal best of 3:46 set last season.

The 3000m race was much anticipated as we had high hopes of a 1-2 finish in a re-run of their battle over 5000m in the Southern League 2 weeks ago, and that is how it played out as new man Antonio Silva and Mo Aaden shared the pace making for the first 6 laps. However it was Antonio who came out victorious this time, reversing the positions of 2 weeks ago. It came down to a full-out sprint for the line with Antonio just having enough pace to edge clear of Mo by 0.11 seconds. The next finisher was almost 12 seconds down so the Valley dominance was clear for all to see.

Panos Bekiardis made his debut for the Valley in fine style, winning the 110m hurdles A race in 15.18 seconds into a 1.7m/s headwind. He is a welcome addition to the club in an event that has not been strong for us for some time. Panos joins his cousin, the ladies Javelin thrower Olga Kotmilosi as a valuable and talented athlete in the Valley ranks.

Jason Commissiong almost matched Panos’s win in the 110m hurdles B race finishing in the same time as the Harrow athlete in 15.97 and they shared first place. However, this followed an uncharacteristically slow start from Jason but he clawed back the deficit to claim equal first on the dip.

For the 400m hurdles Chris McAlister was understandably weary following his busy weekend at the British University championships where he ran three sub 54 second races in 3 days (including 2 lifetime best performances) to finish 5th in the final. With Chris scheduled for the remaining 3 matches we are looking to this being a strong event for the rest of the season. In Chris’ absence another new signing Casper Donnison stepped up to the mark and ran a solid race to finish a creditable 6th in the 400m hurdles A race just outside his lifetime best in 60.03. In calmer conditions and a few more races Casper will be taking chunks off his best times to date.

Simon Baptist made his farewell appearance in Valley colours as he is relocating to Singapore with his work. Whilst Simon is better known as a 400/800/1500 runner this was a new event for him and his 63.39 was a good reward for his dogged determination and he earned 2 valuable points in 7th in the B race. Simon later came back to run the 3000m steeplechase and claim another 3 points for his 12:03.83. Thanks for helping out today and for everything you have done for the club over the past 5 years. We wish you every success in your new job.

Robert Vallance made his British League debut in the 3000m steeplechase A race having been a club member for over 5 years and come through the age groups. This young athlete, still only 19, has developed consistently and is showing great potential at this very tough event. Robert’s time of 10:09.29 was his first race over the senior distance and saw him claim 4th place. We are looking forward to seeing Robert continued to develop over the coming season.

Ogo Anochirionye was 2nd in the A string Long Jump with 6.95m, which is only 4cm less than his best legal outdoor jump of the season. What is more remarkable is that, owing to a bruised heel that he picked up in the week he was jumping off his other leg! We can only wait to see what he can do off his stronger leg when the season progresses. Being the great clubman that he is Ogo then came back later to clear 1.65m in the High Jump to earn another 5 points.

The Pole Vault was a high scoring event for us with club stalwart Greg Conlon clearing a fine 4.40m to win his first ever British League match. At the age of 40 he is still showing the youngsters how it should be done. Stanislav Vilga continues to improve as he improved his lifetime best for the second time this season and cleared 3.80 to claim 2nd place in the B event. Like Ogo, Stan is a great clubman and later joined Ogo in the High Jump to pick up another 2 points with 1.50m.

Club stalwart Nav Childs jumped 13.78m for 3rdth place in the A Triple Jump having previously finished 4th in the B Long Jump with 6.19m. Stephen Edwards was close to Nav’s distance with 13.43m to win the B Triple Jump by over half a metre.

With Steve Whyte, the club number one, missing, long time member Ali Mortimore teamed up with youngster Jamie Potton-Burrell to cover all three heavy throws. Jamie was slightly down on his best distances in the Hammer as he is changing his technique, which will take time to pay dividends. However, his 48.29m earned him 3rd in the A event with Ali also claiming 3rd in the B event with 35.90m.

Ali was 8th in the Discus with 33.98m for a season’s best and Jamie was 7th in the B Discus with 31.12m. These positions were repeated in the Shot where Ali reached 11.43m for a season’s best and Jamie reached 10.38m.

Jon Harvey was again our number one Javelin thrower where his 50.87m earned him 2nd place in the A event and Dawid Jerzykowski threw 46.67m to also claim 2nd place in the B event.

The 4x100m team were on for maximum points when they failed to pass the baton on the final changeover. This was very unfortunate as we had Leroy Cain on the final leg who was clearly in great form.

The 4x400m team was only just outside the best time of 2014 clocking 3:20.90. With solid runs from Andrew Ajube and Myles Edwards, new signing Omar Hutchinson ran a great 3rd leg setting Luke Lennord-Ford up for fine victory. With the potential to pull in 45.7 man Victor Dos Santos and Chris McAlister the team is certainly capable of challenging the club record.

Team Manager, Paul Oppe said “We needed to make our presence felt at this match as we have just come down from Division 1 and we did that today. We were dominant in a number of events and we have quite a few athletes to come in who could score heavily for us. Everything didn’t go our way today but we still managed to finish a close 2nd. I am happy with that today and I am really looking forward to getting our strongest team out for the next match in Watford.”

TEAM RESULT

Crawley

  League Points Match Points
Harrow 8 319
Thames Valley Harriers 7 310
Crawley 6 295
Kingston & Poly 5 291
Bristol & West 4 285.5
Nottingham 3 260
Nene Valley 2 235.5
Gateshead Harriers 1 157

Peter Browne

9 May 2015