This is turning into a golden season for the Valley with a win in the first Men’s match at Watford followed by the Women’s team winning the European Clubs event last week and now another stunning win from the Men’s team on home turf at the Linford Christie Stadium .
The men’s team produced a terrific performance to win the match by almost 50 points and with two wins out of two matches we are leading Division 1, ahead of Southampton by two League points. Significantly, on a day where the other clubs effectively reversed the positions from Match 1, there are eight points between us and the 3rd club.
If we can keep up the hard work , a League Title and promotion to the Premier League beckons. It would be an incredible achievement for both the Men’s and Women’s teams to be in the Premier League and mark us as one of the top clubs overall in the country.
The only sour note was the parlous state of the Stadium. Despite the grass on the centre of the track being cut the rest of the grassed areas within the Stadium looked like a meadow and the public address system had been condemned so we had to hire in a new one. It was only due to the efforts of the Valley’s loyal and hardworking team that the meeting was able to be conducted as they fought to bring facilities up to standard wherever possible.
Back to the action and none of the Stadium issues could suppress the elation that ran throughout the team on the day as it proved to be a truly dominating performance in both track and field with the Valley men scoring more track points than any other team as well as more field points than any other team.
With 2 matches to go things are looking very positive for the Promotion campaign and we are now determined to get our second promotion in 2 seasons and return to the Premiership.
Man of the Match for Track was a popular and well deserved win for Paskar Owor for his tactically superb and grittily determined runs in the 800m and 1500m. The 800m saw him off the pace for the first lap as he starts to regain the edge to his speed after a long winter of distance running. However, his second lap saw him ease smoothly through the field and wait patiently in the home straight until a gap appeared before he drove for the line overtaking 3 athletes in the last 50m and just failing to catch the winner. His time of 1:54.43 is a 2 second improvement on his first match result and shows that his speed is now flooding back. The 1500m was even better with another late run being perfectly timed to catch the leader within the last stride and snatch victory in 3:52.82, another massive improvement on his time from match 1.
Man of the Match for Field was won by Jamie Potton Burrell. His winning throw in the Hammer of 55.11m was within centimetres of his best ever throw and he won by a massive 3.5 metres. His final throw would have been even further but the Hammer just clipped the throwing cage, which robbed him of another lifetime best. Jamie was standing in for club stalwart Steve Whyte in the B Shot and, under Steve’s coaching he has improved dramatically this summer. He threw 12.15m, another near personal best, and threw over 12 metres twice in a competition for the first time. Clearly Jamie is a fast improving thrower and has an exciting future in Hammer, Shot and indeed Discus where he has thrown a lifetime best also this season.
The Clubman of the Match was awarded to Mark Dyble for his determined and impressive 200m win in the B event and a fine leg to help the team to victory in the 4x100m relay. Mark has always shown his commitment to the Club and Team performance, including running a 4x400m leg in Match 1 when we found ourselves short. Mark’s time of 22.09 was a fine performance and represented another step towards sub 22 seconds and his lifetime best of 21.93. Post–race Mark’s comments displayed both his commitment and the team ethos. As he came off the bend with a group of 4 he said to himself “This is my track and my race” and he fought off all challenges down the straight to win by 3/100 of a second.
The day started as usual on the track with the 400m hurdles and once again Chris McAlister put in a great performance to win the A race in 52.64 and it’s a mark of the progress Chris has made that he was disappointed with the time, although he never ran faster before this season. Chris is a class athlete and he followed up his hurdles race with another fantastic relay leg – more of which later. Chris was joined by Andrew Ajube for the B race and, although better known as a flat 400m runner Andrew showed great style in only his 2nd BAL race over the hurdles and scored well to finish 4th in 58.38 (his fastest time yet) and with some hurdles coaching will clearly make massive improvements before the season is out.
The sprints are traditionally strong events for us and Leroy Cain again proved his ability with a strong run to snatch 3rd place in a very high class 100m in 10.69 and went one better in the 200m where his 21.50 got him 2nd place and was just 0.06 outside his fastest ever time. Leroy also ran a superb final leg of the 4×100 – see below.
Subomi Onanuga was also very close to his lifetime best with a 3rd place finish in the 100m B race, his time of 10.82 was his second fastest ever and only 0.03 seconds outside the time he ran in Match 1 at Watford. Mark Dyble won a hotly contested 200m B race in 22.09.
The 400m saw a welcome return to the team for Luke Lennon Ford as he struggles to regain full fitness but his 48.26 time was a season’s best time as he finished strongly and just failed to catch the 2nd placer. Luke’s ability will surely come through in the coming weeks as his season progresses. He is a great team supporter and always a popular and committed club man.
Lloyd King ran a relay leg in Match 1 but today he was back in the individual 400m race and his first 350m looked strong and fluent. His lane 8 draw did not help as he just missed out on 4th place, but his time was just outside 50 seconds and he is set to go sub 50 and much faster as he readjusts to racing 400m. Lloyd also ran a fine relay leg – see below.
Paskar Owor’s determination and tactical awareness in the 800m A race was matched by Kieron Sexton win the B race in 1:56.45. He ran a perfectly controlled race and displaying his trademark fighting qualities he held his form well to win by 3 metres. Kieron has clearly benefitted from working with Dave Wilkinson’s group over the winter and his season is going from strength to strength. He also showed great determination in an excellent 4x400m leg – see below.
With Myles Edwards still out with injury problems Chris Thomas made his debut for the team and ran a well-controlled 1500m B race to take over 8 seconds off his previous best time in running 4:10.69 for 7th place. With a background in longer distances Chris looks capable of close to 4 minutes this season with a little more emphasis on speed training and a few more races.
We were missing Mo Aadan and Antonio Silva for this match and they have been big points winners for us, so we were grateful to Mark Haskett and Rob Russell making the long trip down from Scotland to bolster the team over 5000m. It was a tough race between them as they were evenly matched and swapped the lead several times over the race before Mark just pulled away from Rob on the final lap to finish 2 seconds clear in 15:53.39 for 7th place to Rob’s 15:55.49 for 5th place in the B race, both creditable performances on a warm and humid day for distance running.
The 110m Hurdles was again another high class race as, with Panos Bekiardis missing, Jason Comissiong made a very timely return to the team following a period of back problems that have hampered his training this summer. Jason was quickly away but his loss of hurdles training meant his stride pattern and timing to the first hurdle were out. However, Jason never gives up and his speed and technique improved with every hurdle as he chased down the field and finished in 6th place with 15.57, only 0.2 seconds outside his lifetime best from last season. With his first hurdle sorted out Jason must dip below 15 seconds this summer.
Stan Vilga again stepped in to cover the B race and earn valuable points for 6th in 23.70 as he fought hard all the way to overtake the 7th placer and take additional points.
Robert Vallance ran a better judged race than Match 1 as he finished 4th in the A Steeplechase in 10:07.57, and, with year-end exams finishing next week he will be able to fully concentrate on his training and start to dip well below 10:00. Andy Hennessy was another athlete to return to the team and again off little training ran a creditable 10:28.29 to finish 5th in the B race. As an orthopaedic surgeon his time is not always his own but he was once again enthused after his experience and will return stronger and fitter for the next match.
In the field Jamie Potton Burrell’s winning Hammer throw of 55.11m was accompanied by another 50m + throw from Steve Whyte whose 50.48m won him the B event and at the age of 52 he is an inspiration to other athletes in all events. He won the B event by an amazing 11 metres from his younger rivals.
Craig Sturrock was close to his season’s best in the Discus as his 41.11m earned him 3rd place in the A event with Steve Whyte returning to throw a fine 39.14m to win the B event as both earned massive points for the team.
Craig had previously thrown the Shot but was a little down on his best of the season but still picked up big points for his 2ndplace with 14.28m. Jamie Potton Burrell stood in for Steve Whyte in the B event and was delighted to continue his improving trend with a fine 2nd place with 12.15m. With club No 1 Remco Goetheer having recently thrown a lifetime best of 18.04m ready to return to the team this should make the heavy throws bankers for big points.
The Javelin saw Jon Harvey again over 50m with 50.31m for 5th in the A event and Dawid Jerzykowski 4th in the B event with 44.58m. Both Jon and Dawid are athletes who improve over the season and, with 2 matches remaining we could see good battles between them.
Ogo Anochirionye was again our number 1 Long Jumper and he finished 2nd in the A event with 7.04m on a day when most jumpers were well down on their best performances. Nav Childs was one who improved on his match 1 distance with 6.37m to earn 2nd place in the B event before returning to clear 14.30m to earn 2nd place in his more favoured Triple Jump. Unfortunately our massively talented young jumper Jude Bright-Davies had to withdraw from what would have been his British League debut with an injury and we wish him well for a rapid recovery and further age group national titles this summer. Stephen Edwards was also unable to compete as his wife had just given birth to their first child on Friday and we wish Steve and his family well. Youngster Odell Okwuosa stepped in and reached 12.46m for 3rd in the B Triple Jump having made his debut in match 1 covering his less favoured High Jump.
The Pole Vault saw Erik Tropp again jump 4.00m to finish 6th, just missing 5th place on countback and Stan Vilga produced another solid performance with 3.40m to finish 4th in the B event.
Toni Ademuwagun is still only 15 and again equalled his lifetime best of 1.85m to finish 7th in the A event in a high quality competition. As a measure of his progression Toni was disappointed with jumping “only” 1.85m – his best before this year was 1.83m but, with a little patience, he is certain to jump much higher this summer. Toni is a very mature young man and handles these competitions very well considering he is competing against senior athletes and it is clear he has a fantastic future. Michael Adekunle returned to the team but had a disappointing day as the effects of a recent twisted ankle restricted his ability to jump but he still cleared 1.75m to earn points for the club.
The 4x100m team had a bad day at the office in match 1 and we agreed that safety first was the order of the day. The team all made the necessary adjustments to “guarantee” getting the baton round and we accepted that we may give up a few points in the process. However, the team didn’t believe that they could be beaten and, with a series of good, safe changes each runner produced fine runs. Chaka Maillet, fresh from his 11.00 personal best had a great first leg as he handed over in the mix at the front. Subomi Onanuga flew down the back straight and kept us up to the fore before Mark Dyble ran a superb bend to keep us close to the leaders and a safe handover to Leroy set us up for a top 3 position. Leroy had other ideas and with a great pickup he ran down the Basingstoke, Enfield and Southampton teams to clinch a superb win in 41.73 and claim maximum points, almost half a second clear with our fastest time since 2011. With Nigel Thomas, Victor De Santos Soares, Edmond Amaning, Luke Lennon Ford and a number of young athletes headed up by Kamal Mitchell waiting in the wings our sprint squad looks formidable and faster relays time will surely come before the summer is out.
The 4x400m team was stretched with Luke Lennon Ford unable to run, but Kieron Sexton stepped up to the plate and agreed to run to complete the day with no gaps in any event. Having had a great run in the 400m hurdles Andrew Ajube ran a solid 51.6 on leg 1 to keep us in contact with the leaders. Kieron Sexton ran a determined leg and with Irish pride at stake as he was in competition with 2 other Irish middles distance men. Kieron ran a well-controlled leg and finished strongly to clock 52.2, well inside his best flat 400m time of 53.4. With a small fumble between Kieron and Lloyd King at the changeover Lloyd recovered quickly to run an impressive 48.7 split, which shows that sub 50 seconds on the flat will be coming soon. On the final leg Chris McAlister had a storming run and his 47.4 clocking saw him close to within a few metres of the leader. We were rewarded with our first sub 3:20 clocking of the year with a finishing time of 3:19.98 for 2nd place. Again with Luke Lennon Ford and Victor De Santos Soares the team could run very fast, probably close to 3:10, this season.
Everything did not go to plan and we lost some key athletes before the day so we still believe that we can put out a stronger team. Although it was clear that we had started well and had an early lead the margin of victory came as a surprise and with 2 teams to be promoted we are 8 points clear of the 3rd team with 2 matches to go. Things are looking very good for the season and we are aiming to go up as Champions.
|Thames Valley Harriers||345||8||8||16||339||684|
|Glasgow City AC||291||6||1||7||186||477|
|Herne Hill Harriers||266.3||4||3||7||263||529.3|
|Blackheath & Bromley H & AC||260||3||5||8||273||533|
|Enfield & Haringey AC||238.3||2||6||8||295||533.3|
|Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC||207.3||1||4||5||267.5||474.8|
STANDING AFTER 2 MATCHES
|1||Thames Valley Harriers||16||684.0|
|3||Enfield & Haringey AC||8||533.3|
|4||Blackheath & Bromley H & AC||8||533.0|
|5||Herne Hill Harriers||7||529.3|
|7||Glasgow City AC||7||477.0|
|8||Basingstoke & Mid Hants AC||5||474.8|
6 June 2016