Thames Valley Harriers ladies shone in a warm and sunny Eton. Having comfortably won the first match in Birmingham, the aim was for a top 3 finish to maintain the ultimate goal of regaining the title as the best team in the UK. With a tremendous effort, the team exceeded expectations to finish in a fantastic 2nd accumulating an impressive 212 points – only 6 points behind reigning champions Birchfield Harriers. The final match is on Sunday 16th July in Bromley, where a victory will result in TVH returning to compete at the European Champion Clubs Cup (ECCC) in 2018 as UKWAL Champions.
As always, there was a fantastic team spirit from the first to last event as TVH ladies were rewarded with 7 wins, 4 new club records and 12 personal best performances. As many athletes were seeking qualifying times and distances for upcoming major championships, the competition was especially strong. The first two events to take place were in the field, the long jump and hammer. In the long jump, less than 30cm separated the top 5 athletes. TVH’s UKWAL club captain got, Angela Barrett, got the team of to a solid start with a season’s best of 5.83m to finish 5th (only 1cm from 4th) in the A string. With a number of TVH’s top long jumpers unavailable, TVH were delighted to have GB junior international pole vaulter Molly Caudery make her TVH debut. Molly happily accepted the chance to open her TVH points tally with a good 5.01m jump in her first of three events of the day to finish 5th in the B string.
In the hammer, Katie Lambert was less than half a metre away from her own U20 club record with a strong 55.45m throw to place her an excellent 4th in the A string. In the B string Pippa Wingate finished a fantastic 2nd but was disappointed to miss the cut for three additional throws and a chance to improve on her 49.55m.
Over to the track, the first event saw Aisha Naibe-Wey return to the team to win the A string 400m hurdles. In the difficult outside lane Aisha ran a well-judged race to cross the line first in 59.39. Another athlete returning to the team was Rebekah Wiltshire, with a gutsy run to finish in 72.71 for a 6th place in the B string.
The standard of the middle distance events was very high. In the 800m Katie Olding ran a well-judged season’s best 2:14.16 for 7th place in the A string. With a number of TVH’s middle distance athletes unavailable, 400m specialist Sarada Nag kindly agreed to step up to run the 800m B string. Sarada did her best for the team and just missed out on 7th place in a decent time of 2:28.86, indicating that a step up to two laps may just well suit her. Again to help the team out, Sarada returned to action in a completely new event of her, the 1500m, covering another gap. Sarada did very well to complete 3 ¾ laps of the track in 6.24.10 to score 2 more important points by placing 7th in the B string. Having only given birth 10 weeks ago, Lisa da Silva made a very welcome return to the team filling in the other gap in the 1500m. Although her time of 5:41.38 for 7th place in the A string was way off her best, it was enough to secure 2 more points for the team, so well worth the effort.
The 3000m was won by GB International cross country runner Naomi Taschimowitz attacking from the gun, with TVH’s London World Championships bound marathon runner Tracy Barlow the only athlete interested in chasing her down. With a solo 7 laps of the track Tracy did very well to finish within 3 seconds of her personal best in 9:51.75 for an excellent 2nd place. Despite carrying an injury, Fiona Thompson was determined to not let the team down given the depleted middle distance squad. Fiona ran an incredibly competitive race to finish in a fantastic 3rd place in the B string with 10:31.29.
The sprinters were pleased to race on a warmer day with following winds and they were rewarded with some outstanding times. Having moved up as TVH’s A string 100m runner, Rebecca Campsall, with an excellent start and a small mid race wobble, ran superbly to hold of some fast finishing international athletes to claim victory in a fast 11.60. It was also great to have 100m hurdler Tayla Benson return to the team as a late injury replacement in the 100m B string. Tayla ran a very good 12.51 for 6th place.
In the 100m hurdles team stalwart, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, with a slightly more cautious start, did extremely well to chase everyone down, just missing out on victory by 2 hundredths of a second with a season’s best time of 13.58. In the B string, Tayla Benson was again back on the track with her second event and did very well to finish 5th with 14.71.
Zoey Clark is in the form of her life that should gain her selection for both upcoming Commonwealth Games and World Championships dominated the 400m with victory of over 1 second from Olympian and home team favourite, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke, in a new TVH club record time of 52.33. In the B string, Sophie Preece returned to her favourite event having filled on the 800m at Birmingham, Sophie also had a good race to run a season’s best time of 57.65 for 6th place.
The 200m was another very high standard competition. Zoey Clark returned to the track and had a superb race to finish within 2 hundredth of a second of claiming her second victory of the day with a new windy club record of 23.14 (well inside the Commonwealth Games standard be it not for the wind) and over 1 second ahead of the 3rd placed athlete. In the B string Rebecca Campsall ran very close to her personal best with an excellent 24.18 to finish 2nd.
The final individual track event was the 2k steeplechase where 16 year old Rosie Vallance made her scoring debut in the team, having earlier run a non-scoring 100m. It was not just a debut but her first ever attempt at racing over the steeplechase barriers having kindly volunteered to run due to a number of other athletes unavailable. Rosie had a great run to finish 6th in 8:18.46 and won the team 3 more points.
Back over to the field, there were some outstanding performances taking place. The standard was extremely high in the discus with 4 ladies throwing further than 50m. Sophie Parkinson-Brown had a good competition to finish 4th in the A string with 45.76. Sophie Mace also threw well as she equalled her distance from Match 1 in Birmingham with 43.24m for 3rd place in the B string.
The shot putt was another high-class affair with 8 ladies throwing over 13m in their first 3 attempts resulting in TVH athletes being denied 3 more throws. Danielle Opara was very close to 13m, her 12.92m was good enough for 7th place in the A string. Dani was well backed up by Pippa Wingate with a solid 11.50m for 4th place in the B string.
Similar to the other field events, the standard of the high jump was high. Pippa Rogan did well to finish 4th with 1.70m in the A string. Molly Caudery, a late change to the high jump team, managed to successfully fit in a couple of jumps whilst pole vaulting. Despite not having her high jump shoes, Molly did very well to clear 1.60m and claim second place in the B string.
TVH’s only double victory of the day came in the pole vault where club records were exchanged between Clare Maurer and Molly Caudery. Before the event Clare was the TVH club record holder with her 3.80m from her jump at Birmingham in Match 1. Clare did extremely well to reach a new club record mark of 3.90m. Molly, with first time clearances, also set new club records over 3.90m and 4.00m. With the competition won at 4.00m, Molly went on to attempt the European Junior Qualifying height of 4.15m but narrowly missed out with her final jump. For her outstanding debut, filling at late notice in both the long jump and high jump, and her outstanding pole jump victory, Molly was awarded the TVH Field Athlete of the Match award.
The triple jump has been for a number of years one of TVH’s best scoring events in the UKWAL. Angela Barrett who is only just back jumping off her preferred right foot, did very well to hop skip jump 12.82m to claim 2nd place in the A string. Having had a stress fracture in her tibia earlier in the season, it was fantastic to see Montana Jackson back competing. Montana did extremely well to win the B string with 12.41m.
TVH’s regular javelin duo of Laurensa Britane and Olga Kotmilosi nearly had to change as Olga was still in a protective boot on Thursday before her competition as she recovers from a broken foot. Despite being in obvious pain, Olga was determined to not let her team mates down. Laurensa with a splendid throw of 47.16m finished an excellent 3rd in the A string. Olga somehow managed an outstanding 42.23m, her best throw for over 3 years to claim an amazing 2nd place. For tremendous effort with her fractured foot, Olga was awarded the TVH Club Athlete of the match award.
The relays are always an exciting way to end the day. TVH’s 4x100m team were very unlucky as they were hampered by a Blackheath and Bromley (B&B) athlete rolling into their lane on the final changeover; the officials put it down to an unintentional racing incident as B&B avoided disqualification. The quartet of Tayla Benson, Angelita Broadbelt-Blake, Sophie Preece and Rebecca Campsall were well on course for another top 3 finish but due to the problem at the 3rd changeover they had to settle for 7th in a respectable time of 49.13. TVH were offered an opportunity of a re-run as a time-trial, however, as all of the quartet had already at least two race in their legs, we declined this offer.
With points getting very close between the top teams, a good result in the 4x400m was vital. Our lead off leg was 16 year old Jozae Grant. Jozae ran very well to bring the team home in joint 6th place with a fine 59.0 split. Sophie Preece had another storming 2nd leg to move the team up to 5th place with a very good 57.6 split. 400m hurdler, Aisha Naibe-Way strong 3rd leg moved the team up to joint 2nd. TVH star 4th leg runner is Zoey Clark who had a 30m+ gap to close down from the Birchfield athlete in the lead. With an extremely well paced race, Zoey stormed passed the Birchfield athlete in the home straight to the delight of her team for a fantastic victory in TVH’s 2nd fastest ever time, 3:43.66, only the time set at the European Clubs Championships last year is quicker. With her two club records (200m and 400m) and a world class relay leg, Zoey Clark was awarded TVH Track Athlete of the Match.
Thank you to all the officials, helpers and supporters. Our ladies are in a great position regain their title from 2015 as the best ladies team in the UK in the final match in Bromley on the 16th July.
|Match Result||Team||League Points||Match Points|
|2nd||Thames Valley Harriers||7||212.0|
|4th||Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow||5||201.0|
|5th||Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers||4||162.0|
|7th||Blackheath and Bromley Harriers||2||145.0|
|8th||Woodford Green with Essex Ladies||1||129.0|
|Standings||Team||League Points||Match Points|
|1st||Thames Valley Harriers||15||446.5|
|4th||Windsor, Slough Eton & Hounslow||10||380.0|
|5th||Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers||7||329.0|
|7th||Blackheath and Bromley Harriers||4||271.5|
|8th||Woodford Green with Essex Ladies||2||241.0|