UKWAL Match 2: TVH Ladies Victorious Again

In an exciting match TVH ladies claimed their second consecutive victory of the season by just 3 match points from hosts Birchfield Harriers. This now places the fantastic team 3 league points clear of Windsor Slough and Eton (WSEH) and 4 league points ahead of Birchfield Harriers. TVH are well positioned to win the league and go on to represent Great Britain in the European Club Champions Cup next May but will need an equally good result in the final match in August.

The weather once again threatened to spoil the match but the rain and strong winds just about held off. As usual it was a day of ups and downs from the first event to the last. There was a fantastic team atmosphere all weekend with our four UKWAL debutants (Aeysha Robinson, Aisha Naibe-Wey, Jess Tappin and Montene Speight) warmly welcomed to the team. There was one club record and four B string wins, with the B string events scoring 109 points, 21 more points than the runners up Birchfield Harriers. The strength in depth of the team and amazing team spirit was clear to all present. Everyone was determined to achieve the maximum points for the team and in doing so allowed us to win a close match.

The first event of the track was the 400m hurdles. GB heptathlete Jess Tappin was representing TVH at the UKWAL for the first time and for the first time in her career false started due to background noise resulting in an automatic disqualification. Jess; however did the team proud with her fighting spirit in other events later on in the day. Lucy Ferguson got the TVH points tally rolling in with a 1st place in the B string 400m hurdles, looking strong all the way to sprint past the WSEH athlete off the final hurdle.

The jumps proved again to be some of TVH’s best scoring events. In the long jump all the athletes struggled with a cross wind but our duo of Angela Barrett (5.67m) and Ugne Liuksaityte (5.52m SB) did very well for the team by both finishing 2nd in their respective strings. Angela was soon back in action in the triple jump despite fighting heel and leg problems, and she still managed another fantastic 2nd A string place with 12.68m. One of TVH’s U20 stars, Lia Stephenson was not far behind Angela. With her best jump of 12.53m Lia scored maximum points in the B string and with that jump she won the TVH Field Athlete of the Match award. The high jump saw the return of Ella Widdop-Gray to the team, who on Friday evening won a bronze medal at the English Schools’ Championships with a new U20’s club record of 1.72m. Ella scored some great points for the club on Sunday with a first time clearance of 1.65m to earn her 3rd place in the A string. Jess Tappin showed her competitiveness in the high jump after her mishap in the hurdles. Jess with her 3rd attempt cleared 1.60m and 1.65 scoring her first points for the club by placing 2nd in the B string. The pole vault saw another young athlete making their debut at the UKWAL, Aeysha Robinson has been in great form and was close to her lifetime best with a good clearance of 2.70m for 5th place in the B string. The A string athletes were hampered with the javelin throwers deciding to throw at the same end as the pole vault run up. Shannon Connolly was a little down on her recent club record but did well with finish 4th in the A string with 3.40m to score some more valuable points for the team.

Back on the track, our sprinters were in fine form. Clieo Stepheson in a very competitive race ran a fast 11.93 for 6th place in the A string (4th and 6th places were separated by 1/100th of a second). Clieo was unlucky not to be competing for the GB U23 team this weekend as the selectors decided not to take a 4x100m team. Izzie Stanway had another good day at the UKWAL with a 2nd place in the B string (12.17). Zoey Clark was missing for the first time in two and a half years as she was winning gold for GB at the U23 European Championships so all four 200m/400m spots went to athletes making their TVH debuts. After a long US collegiate season, Montene Speight made a fantastic debut by scoring good points in her A string events with 4th in the 200m (24.48) and 2nd in the 400m (54.44). Montene went on to run strong leg of the 4x400m (more on the relays later). After winning her first points for the team in the high jump, Jess Tappin with 3rd place in the 200m B string was again back winning valuable points for the team in a very good time of 24.68. The final debutant was 400m hurdler Aisha Naibe-Wey. Aisha was ranked 7th in Europe at the time of team selection for the U23 championships and despite having the qualifying standard she was disappointingly not selected – it was a bonus to have Aisha in the team for this match. Aisha had a tremendous debut for TVH with a win in the 400m flat B string 56.16. Aisha was also a late addition in the 100m hurdles, which in a close photo finish she placed 3rd. Aisha went on to run the first legs in both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. For her fantastic team effort, Aisha was awarded the TVH Club Athlete of the Match award. Angelita Broadbelt-Blake competed in another exciting race against a Birchfield Harrier/GB international athlete (Megan Beesley). Angelita narrowly missed out in the photo finish to come home a very close 2nd in the A string hurdles in a very fast 13.42.

TVH middle distance squad was a little light on numbers due to injuries but those who came covered the events well. The 800m equalled the triple jump as TVH’s highest scoring event of the day. Michaela Mayor ran a well-judged race to finish in a fantastic 2nd place in the A string (2:12.27) and her sight is on the club record for the final match. Izzy Dye was another athlete who travelled down from the English School’s event in Gateshead also ran a smart race to outsprint the Birchfield Harriers athlete to take victory in the 800m B string in a time of 2.14.84. In the 3000m Fiona Thompson ran a sensible race, not panicking when the pace picked up on the second lap after a slow first lap. Fiona worked her way through the field with 800m to place a superb 2nd overall, and in her second quickest ever time (9.52.52). Tracy Barlow followed suit to place 2nd in the B string event (6th overall) with a new PB of 10.11.30. Fiona Thompson was back in action later in the day in the 1500m, along with 800m runner Michaela Mayor. It was Michaela who came back first in 4.39.49 in a SB to place 4th in the A string. Fiona was not far behind crossing the line in 4.43.43 also with a SB to place 2nd in the B string. This was a fine effort from the pair following their earlier exertions. For her two 2nd places and great tactical awareness, Fiona was awarded TVH Track Athlete of the Match. The final individual track race was the 2k steeplechase, and as always TVH entered two athletes with only the first athlete scoring points. Former TVH chairperson and life member, Diana Kennedy (V45) started off fast in 2nd place but it was Maire Gorman who came past in the closing stages to pick up the points with 5th place in a SB time of 8.31.87. Diana finished just behind in 6th place in 8.41.90.

The final events on the track were the relays. There were many volunteers for the relays but the original selected quartet were determined to run, including Jess Tappin who had been sick less than 10 minutes before the start of the relays. The 4x100m relay team of Aisha Naibe-Wey, Izzie Stanway, Clieo Stephenson and Jess Tappin had some safe change overs to finish an excellent 3rd in a New Club Record time of 47.76. There was a bit of talk about a potential new club record also in the 4x400m with the all talented athletes available. Aisha Naibe-Wey was the lead leg and ran a great lap to be clear in 2nd place, ahead of rivals Birchfield Harriers and WSEH. The baton was to be handed over to Angela Barrret, however, it somehow was dropped and all chances of a club record disappeared. Luckily the dropped baton did not interfere with the other teams which enabled Angela pick it up and start making up for some lost positions. Angela suffered for her efforts in chasing down the athletes ahead in the last 100m with the build up of lactic. TVH’s 3rd leg runner Jess Tappin was not aware that Angela was slowing and ran away from her during the 2nd baton exchange but stopped just in time to receive it. Similar to Angela, Jess ran a very determined leg in a fast 55.0 to close down some of the ground to the athletes ahead. There was again confusion at the final change over as Jess was not sure where she could give up the baton to Montene Speight. Eventually Mo received it and ran a storming leg (54.1) to move the team up from 6th place to a splendid 2nd place. Despite the dropped baton and messy changeovers this new quartet was less than 1 second away from the club record.

The throwers also had a mixed day. With Emma o’Hara out for the season with a hamstring tear, A string duties went to Christina Furlong who had her best competition for TVH throwing a good 44.30m. Carla Letheby was a little below her recent good form with 38.30m. The hammer in the UKWAL Premier includes the best throwers in the country so Christina finished 8th and Carla 5th in their respective strings. TVH scored the same points for the discus, shot and javelin, with 4th places in the A strings and 3rd places in the B strings. Laura Britane (44.41m SB) and Carla Letheby (38.30m) were the usual reliable combination in the discus. Dani Opara was a guest for TVH in the discus and threw her best of the season with 40.24m, which is threatening to break up the Laura/Carla discus combination. Dani in her specialist event, the shot, threw a solid 13.20m and was joined by Abigail Moronkeji was has been carrying a leg injury. Abigail still achieved a season’s best of 11.46m. With the match points being level and everyone waiting for the final field event to finish, the TVH javelin duo of Laura Britane and birthday girl Olga Kotmilosi did not disappoint by scoring three more points than the Birchfield Harriers combination despite being slightly below their best with 42.57m and 36.96m respectively.

All in all, this was a brilliant performance by the TVH ladies team. With just the final fixture in Eton, on Saturday, 8th August to go, TVH women’s team are looking good to become UKWAL Premier Division Champions for the first time in history. Thanks for all everyone who helped on the day especially the TVH officials Alan Ferguson, Roy Clarridge, Dave Huffer, Marion Huffer and Roger Fitzgerald who contributed towards the final points tally. Also, a special mention to TVH’s hard working sports masseur, Jade, who is also part of the winning formula the day before having helped the men’s BAL team win by a narrow 3 point margin in Derby the day before.

Match Result Team League Points Match Points
1st Thames Valley Harriers 8 229.0
2nd Birchfield Harriers 7 226.0
3rd Windsor, Slough E & H 6 197.0
4th Enfield & Haringey 5 179.0
5th Woodford Green with EL 4 174.5
6th Swansea Harriers 3 159.0
7th Edinburgh 2 157.5
8th Blackheath & Bromley 1 107.0
Standings Team League Points Match Points
1st Thames Valley Harriers 16 459.8
2nd Windsor, Slough E & H 13 407.0
3rd Birchfield Harriers 12 423.0
4th Edinburgh 8 362.3
5th Swansea Harriers 7 333.1
6th Enfield & Haringey 7 308.8
7th Woodford Green with EL 5 277.5
8th Blackheath & Bromley 4 272.1
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